Letter: Concerns voiced over the continued ban of cottagers from Whitefish River

If you can visit my house, why can’t I visit yours?

To the Expositor:

Re: Still No access to long term leased cottages, Birch Island, Whitefish River First Nation

As the pandemic exploded, measures were taken to control it. In Ontario, they have proven effective enough to see the re-opening of businesses and restaurants.

The Whitefish River First Nation (WRFN) has declared a state of emergency and in the early days of the pandemic this was a correct move to protect the community. Lessees were banned from their cottages and access was prohibited. WRFN lifted restrictions on band members and they are free to travel anywhere. Their phases do not have any inclusion or reintegration of lessees to the community as we are barred until the state of emergency is over.

My wife and I, 42-year residents of our cottage have not been allowed access, except for a two-hour check with security guards parked in our driveway. What did they expect us to do?

Recent phone calls have given us no explanation as to why WRFN members have full access to wherever they wish to go and we continue to be banned from our cottage, two kms away from the village of Birch Island.

No reason has been given for the WRFN government’s continuation of their state of emergency restrictions other than reiterating repeatedly they have to protect their community and are in a state of emergency. Why is it that Birch Island shops as well as marina are accessible, but cottages are not?

If you can visit my house, why can’t I visit yours? Respectfully yours,

Eric and Claire Hart

Elliot Lake