Northern Manitoba community claims airline not properly serving their needs

A community in Northern Manitoba is bringing forth major issues, claiming the airline, Perimeter Aviation, in which they rely on to get in and out of the community, is not serving their needs. Alex Karpa reports.

A First Nation community in northeastern Manitoba is raising the alarm, as residents and Chiefs in the area claim the airline they rely on is not properly serving the needs of the community.

Around 15,000 people from Island Lake and the surrounding area rely on air travel to get in and out of the community – mainly flying Perimeter Aviation. But leaders of Anisininew Nation say the airline is taking advantage of its members.

“There are continued flight delays, and cancellations creating undue hardships, inconvenience and missed appointments,” explained Grand Chief Scott Harper, Anisininew Okimawin, Island Lake. Grand Council.

Grand Chief Harper says the continued poor service of Perimeter have led to deaths of Island Lake members in need of medical service, most recently Elder Peter McKay, who was a respected governance worker in the community. On top of that, Harper says Perimeter increased its rates for baggage and travel without notifying the community.

“With a full fare ticket to Garden Hill at $998.86, a passenger is now allowed baggage only up to 70 lbs; first excess baggage is $80, and second excess baggage is charged at $100, creating a full cost of $1,178.86 for flights within Manitoba.”

Sarah Monias lives in St. Theresa Point, roughly 450 km northeast of Winnipeg and relies on Perimeter to get to Winnipeg. She says it’s super frustrating when she has to pay upwards of $1100 for a return ticket home.

“Why don’t you consider what we are going through. Come live in our community and experience what we have to go through. I know you make big bucks out of our community; our people and you are taking advantage of our people,” said Monias. “It’s very frustrating, very frustrating and it is very tiresome.”

Grand Chief Cathy Merrick says people living in First Nation communities in rural and northern Manitoba continue to get treated unfairly.

“They have cried time and time again for the services, the airports, the hospitals, in this province,” said Grand Chief Merrick.

In a statement to CityNews, President and CEO of Perimeter Aviation, Joey Petrisor, says they will continue to meet with members of the communities they serve, noting they flew to St. Theresa Point on Tuesday to meet with the Chief and council to fix the situation.

However, Cindy Woodhouse of Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief for Manitoba says, “I’ve just asked Manitobans and Canadians to put yourself in their shoes for a moment, to think about how difficult it would be. How difficult it would be if you want to go somewhere. If you want to even go to a hospital, that you have to pay $1,100 to go to a hospital, and that is not right.”

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