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Fort William First Nation man looks to rebuild mission

Thunder Bay city council will hear about a plan for a new historical site in Fort William First Nation.
Wally Bannon stands in front of the original church from the Jesuit mission, which now sits 10 km down the road in Squaw Bay. Bannon wants to move the church back to its original site as part of a proposed historical development in Fort William First Nation. (Adam Burns/CBC)

Thunder Bay city council will hear about a plan for a new historical site in Fort William First Nation.

At a council meeting Monday night, Wally Bannon will ask the city for $40,000 to study the costs of recreating the original Jesuit mission. Bannon said the Ojibwe lived there for about 60 years.

"On it was 60 houses, 290 people, a church, schools, cemeteries, and all the farmland,” he said.

This site on the southern bank of the Kaministiquia River was the original location of the Jesuit mission that would become Fort William First Nation. (Adam Burns/CBC)

Bannon said he wants to recreate the site, complete with the original church.

The building sits 10 kilometres down the road in Squaw Bay.

"Our people should know this,” Bannon said. “For us younger generations, we had no idea that that was a part of our history."

Bannon is Fort William's acting director of economic development, but he spends his spare time researching his community's history. He said the local Ojibwe worked and farmed on the mission property, from the time it was founded in the 1840s, until the land was expropriated in 1905.

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