Wednesday, April 16, 2003
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Rising from the deep

First Nations company to make Churchill-to-Kivalliq cargo run

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Apr 16/03) - Residents of five Kivalliq communities can still have their dry cargo shipped from Churchill this year.

Moosonee Transportation Ltd. (MTL) will make one cargo run during the week of Aug. 11 to Arviat, Rankin Inlet, Whale Cove, Chesterfield Inlet and Baker Lake.

MTL (originally Hudson Bay Transport) is a private company owned jointly by the Crees of the Waskaganish Band and James Bay Travel Ltd.

Moosonee Mayor Rheal Cool said MTL was negotiating with the Northern Transportation Company Ltd. (NTCL) to lease two of its barges for a separate project when the Kivalliq run came up.

"We found out NTCL was not making the Kivalliq run this year during our talks," said Cool.

"We then received calls from people in Rankin and Whale Cove who had no way of getting their fuel delivered, and that's a pretty tough situation to be in.

"That was one of the reasons we decided to take on a trip to accommodate the people in the region."

Cool said MTL will use the same shipping rates NTCL employed in 2002.

He said the company is looking at continuing the Churchill-to-Kivalliq run in 2004.

"We may not even break even this year, but we're still looking at the run as a good investment.

"If the people like our service, and there's potential to continue, we can start planning for next year almost immediately.

"That will give people in the Kivalliq a chance to get organized and continue to come through Western Canada with their goods instead of Montreal."

Cool said his company will not play any role in the shipment of goods from Winnipeg and Thompson to the Port of Churchill this year.

He said at the time it decided to take on the Kivalliq run, MTL had no idea Manitoba Premier Gary Doer would be unveiling a plan to save the Port of Churchill.

The plan could include a $2-million bailout of the port from both federal and provincial coffers.

"We found out about Premier Doer's plan after the fact, but the Manitoba government does appear to be keenly interested in our plans for Churchill.

"Right now, we're going to concentrate on making this year's run and assess whatever potential may exist.

"Once we've assessed the potential, we'll announce whatever, if any, future plans we may have."