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Honouring the past

Fort William First Nation wants the city’s help to honour the area’s history. From 1848 until 1905 “The Mission” served as the Jesuit headquarters.
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Fort William First Nation economic development director Walter Bannon. (Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com)

Fort William First Nation wants the city’s help to honour the area’s history.

From 1848 until 1905 “The Mission” served as the Jesuit headquarters. It expanded along the shore of the Kaministiquia River to include 60 homes, a church, an orphanage and a school until the land was expropriated for the railway. More than 100 years later, the community wants to recreate the village and include some more modern features, including a petting zoo, a youth centre and a community centre. It would also include a daycare and elder’s centre.

The church still exists, dragged along the ice in 1906 to Squaw Bay. Fort William First Nation economic development director Walter Bannon said around $12,000 has been spent so far to get the project off the ground. But with $40,000 from the city, a real feasibility study could begin to try and transform the original 25 acres back to the way it was. Along with generating tourism, it would be a good way to honour the history of the Ojibway people.

“History is what it is. Some of it was good, some of it was bad. Some of it was downright ugly,” Bannon said.

Council asked Bannon if other partners were out there for the project. He said there have been discussions with private companies.

He also asked to meet with Fort William Historical Park but it didn’t happen. He predicted the total cost would be around $1.7 million and that Fort William First Nation would be a major contributor.

Coun. Iain Angus said the project would be a great way for the city get involved in remembering and promoting the history of the area. Mayor Keith Hobbs said he liked the idea but worried about the cost.

“It’s a lot of money that they’re asking for,” he said.

Angus said the feasibility study would likely cost up to $150,000, which would mean the city wouldn’t be the only funder involved.

Administration has been asked to prepare a report with recommendations.



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