A northern Manitoba First Nation says it has made an offer to purchase the Port of Churchill and the Hudson Bay rail line from OmniTrax Canada.
The Mathias Colomb Cree Nation says it's inviting other northern First Nations to join a consortium that would own the port and rail line, which are being sold by the Denver-based company.
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In a news release issued Friday, the First Nation calls its bid a "historic deal" that "will provide substantial benefits to First Nations and Manitobans alike."
"The Port of Churchill will offer First Nations a tremendous opportunity for additional outside investment and to increase the economic opportunities for all, while at the same time taking a lead role in ensuring the protection of the lands, waters, plants and animals on which these assets sit," Mathias Colomb Chief Arlen Dumas said in the release.
OmniTrax Canada had announced in December that it accepted a letter of intent to buy the port and rail line from a northern Manitoba First Nation group, but it did not say which First Nation was involved.
On Friday, company president Merv Tweed said OmniTrax supports the bid by Dumas and the Mathias Colomb council to buy the port and rail line.
"It is a pleasure working with Chief Dumas and his council. Their leadership, consideration and thoughtfulness have allowed us to support this opportunity for Mathias Colomb and partner northern First Nations who decide to join the consortium," Tweed said in the news release.
"He has taken bold steps to prove his commitment to the transaction and we are eager to see it come to fruition in the coming months."
The First Nation added that buying the rail line will help preserve services for communities along the rail line and bolster the role of the port and line as a transportation hub in Canada's North.
Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, the organization that represents many northern Manitoba First Nations, called the port and rail line "a lifeline to many people and essential to our northern region."
More details on the deal and partnerships are expected to be released soon.
Mathias Colomb Cree Nation is based in Pukatawagan, Man., which is about 700 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg by air and 545 kilometres southwest of Churchill.