Home > News > Marten Falls First Nation...

Marten Falls First Nation and The Northern Road Link - A better life for our youth

Dec 15, 2022

“You know, when you see your community suffer some extreme conditions due to poverty, isolation and just being remote. When you see the prices of gas there are three times higher than in Thunder Bay. When you want to come to the city, and you must wait a few days for the transportation to come in. When you see your health services fail because of lack of transportation.  It's time to do something, it’s time to move forward! And that's the vision of the Marten Falls Chief Bruce Achneepineskum, council leadership and members of the Marten Falls community”, said Bob Baxter, from the Marten Falls Community Land Use Planning Team at the CEN CAN Expo in Thunder Bay. Bob was a speaker in the Ring of Fire Conference.

Bob went on to say, “they wanted a better life by themselves where they're not just prisoned. I'll use the word prisoned in a square box of land we call our reserve. Yes, we hunt and fish. We have our freedom to hunt and fish which is a great asset for us. But when I was young, our way of life was trapping and stuff like that. I talked to the youth today. They're telling me your way of life is not my way of life. We want freedom to go in and out of our community. It's been quite a few years since Marten Falls had wanted a normal all season road. An all season road that would provide access to places like Thunder Bay and Geraldton sometimes to access better health and to access more affordable items. Some of my brothers and sisters live in Marten Falls. They come out to Thunder Bay and it costs them about $500 to get back home just in air fare. That $500 could go towards groceries. Things like that are why we look at developing a route to the community so they can have a better life.  The Northern Road Link is a large-scale project.

Like I said, Marten Falls is a remote indigenous community. It's about 423 kilometers from here, northeast and it's situated at the junction of the of the Albany.  And it's not, of course accessible by all season roads. Instead, we have a winter road network or airplanes for travel. This is how we supply our communities with necessary goods and services.”

As we all know, their weather is changing. winter roads don't last as long as they used to. The window for travel is now getting narrower for getting groceries, fuel or equipment to the reserves. As proponents of the project Marten Falls is leading the assessment process in a way that made them mitigate environmental risks to the community, the people and their traditional lands. They’re also working with Ontario to achieve their vision. As proponents Marten Falls is also the most impacted community as to where the road is going and we're combining western science and our community’s indigenous knowledge for a holistic view.

“One of the things that the community members stressed when we started moving forward with this committee is to protect the land, protect the water, protect the environment so that they don't lose their land so that their way of life is not impacted in such a way that they can never get it back. We are also working with other interested communities to collect data that will be used for the environmental assessment. Of course, like I said, this road is going to be our next economic lifeline for the community. This is a key economic reconciliation with our remote communities. This road is an economic lifeline for our communities. And it will bring jobs, education, training and prosperity where our youth currently have no opportunities.


Marten Falls Picture


For this article and more visit the digital copy of: The Northern Ontario Mining Report

front cover

Tags: Northern Ontario / Ring of Fire / All Articles