A northern Chief is accusing the Saskatchewan government of abandoning its promise to fund upgrades for the airport in Fond-du-Lac.
A provincial cabinet minister says the lack of new funding for improvements to the Fond du Lac airport stems from no application for the money being submitted.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) issued a news release Tuesday where Chief Louis Mercredi accused the government of abandoning the community.
“When we lost our band member and first lobbied for the Fond du Lac runway project, everyone wanted to help,” Fond-du-Lac Denesuline First Nation Chief Louie Mercredi said in a Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) news release on Tuesday.
“The Province gave us their word and now, they’ve abandoned us. We are not their priority,”
Lori Carr, Minister Responsible for First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs, responded Wednesday by saying there was no application made for Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) funding for the project. ICIP is a program stemming from an agreement between multiple levels of government to cost-share infrastructure projects.
“Without a completed application, the project was not able to be further considered for ICIP funding,” Carr said in a statement. “In June 2019, officials from the Ministry of Government Relations requested a full application be submitted for the Fond du Lac Airport project, which did not occur. ”
The federal government announced it would provide $12 million for the community to upgrade the airport back in February.
The fly-in community’s airport was cast into the national spotlight after a fatal plane crash. Nineteen-year-old Arson Fern Jr. died in hospital weeks after the crash.
Carr said the community will be able to apply for the next round of ICIP funding later this year.
A West Wind Aviation twin-turboprop plane ATR 42-320 with 25 people aboard crashed near the Fond-du-Lac airport seconds after takeoff on the night of Dec. 13, 2017. The plane had not been properly de-iced prior to takeoff.
“Currently, the runway meets the physical and safety standards prescribed for its class code and is safe to be used by the appropriate aircraft classifications,” Carr said.
“It is also important to note that the … the runway was not a contributing factor to the accident that resulted in the tragic death.”
Mercredi was unavailable for comment Wednesday morning.
Fond-du-Lac is about 800 kilometres north of Saskatoon.