Fort Albany First Nation is a community in Northern Ontario, Canada, situated on the southern shore of the Albany River and partly on Sinclair Island. The community of Fort Albany is located in the Cochrane District, which is on the west coast of James Bay. Most of the community resides on Sinclair Island of the Albany River and the rest of the community is on the mainland and Anderson Island. Fort Albany is situated 450 km north of Timmins and 700 km north-west of North Bay and accessible by air and winter road/ice road. Fort Albany is 128 kilometers north-west of Moosonee by air.
The community of Fort Albany is accessible by air, by water and also by the winter road. The winter road is only used during the months of early or late January to early or late March depending on the weather conditions. Air Creebec provides Fort Albany with daily passengers’ flights, with connecting flights to Toronto and/or other points of travel. These arrangements are done in Timmins on Air Creebec, Air Canada, Thunder Air, or Bearskin Airlines.
Fort Albany is also accessible through the waters of James Bay and the Albany River. Moosonee Transportation Limited provides barge service by carrying supplies at least once or twice each summer by traveling up and down the coast to each community. Freighter canoes can travel from Fort Albany to Calstock and return whenever the water levels are sufficient to make river travel possible.
Outboard motors and canoes are used during the summer months for other activities such as hunting, trapping, and fishing. During the winter months, skidoos are the main transportation around the community. There are pick-up trucks, vans, and all terrain vehicles owed by both businesses and individuals.
The winter road was completed in the early spring of 1974. It is also used extensively during the winter months. This road is maintained by contractors. The road links all the surrounding communities together, such as Attawapiskat, Moosonee, Moose Factory and Kashechewan.
Air Creebec also handles the Patient Transportation up the coastal communities on a daily basis, Mondays to Fridays. These flights are intended only for hospital patients requiring out of the community hospital care. Other private small airlines (e.g. Wabusk Air) also provide charter services, which sometimes are cheaper than a regular flight on Air Creebec.
The basic economy of the area is a subsistence allowance. There are seasonal jobs that involve construction work for the major capital projects like the dyke, the new school, and the Mid Canada Line. There are the traditional economic activities like trapping, fishing and hunting. Government make-work projects create some employment from time to time. There are a small number of employment opportunities including the Fort Albany First Nation Administration office, Mundo Peetabeck Education authority, Peetabeck Health Services. Fort Albany Power Authority, James Bay General Hospital, Northern Store, Air Creebec, and other small private owned businesses.
The new De Beers Diamond mine in James Bay will also provide many new opportunities.
The majority of the population speaks Mushkegowuk Cree. Many men and women, younger and to the age of fifty, are bilingual in Cree and English. Children are taught in Cree and English at an early age. The community consists of quite a mixture of linguistics, with English, French, Cree, Ojibway, and Oji-Cree spoken.
Old Fort Albany, which was on an island between the two modern day communities, became separated into Anglican and Roman Catholic sections. Then the Roman Catholic mission, and the Roman Catholic portion of the community, moved to the current site of modern day Fort Albany (on the southern shore). The Anglican portion of the community some years later moved to the current site of Kashechewan. Up until the 1970s Fort Albany and Kashechewan shared the same chief and council. In the 1970s they came to have separate Band Councils. Fort Albany and Kashechewan are treated as separate bands, and function as separate Bands today. New Fort Albany is mostly a Roman Catholic community, while Kashechewan is mainly Anglican.
Old Fort Albany was originally established in 1670 as a fur trading post by the Hudson's Bay Company, it was captured by the French and renamed Fort Ste. Anne in 1686, but recaptured by the English in 1693.
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