School bus service for Garden River First Nation students has been cancelled
SAULT STE. MARIE -- Roughly 250 students from Garden River First Nation will have to find a new way to get to school this week as Boissoneau Bus Line has cancelled service. This comes just days before the start of the school year.
"We have not received any directives concerning the safety of the children considering we’re in a COVID-19 situation," Said Gordon Boissoneau, owner of Boissoneau Bus Line.
He said his company has been trying to get a meeting with Garden River First Nation officials since the early part of August to find out what the safety procedures are for safely transporting the students this year.
"We need direction as to if a child approaches the bus that appears to be sick, what do we do in that situation? We have not received any direction."
He also added that the First Nation has not given him the complete list of names of the children he’s supposed to pick up or what his routes will be this year.
Boissoneau said as of right now with the lack of information he has received from the First Nation, it would not be safe to transport the children.
CTV News has reached out to the First Nation for an interview but did not receive a response.
The consortium that is responsible for bussing students for the Algoma District School Board and the Huron Superior Catholic District School Board issued the following statement about the cancellation:
"School bus transportation for students residing in Garden River falls under the jurisdiction of the Garden River Band Office. We are extremely concerned and sympathetic to this situation and are hopeful that a resolution can be reached between Boissoneau Bus Lines and Garden River Band Office this weekend."
On Aug. 1, the band office sent Boissoneau Bus Line an email answering some of the questions the company has. But it didn’t ease the concern for Gordon or his employees.
"Basically my hands are tied. There has to be cooperation with the first nation and I have not received that in full," said Boissoneau.
This letter was posted on the Garden River First Nation Facebook page informing parents about the cancellation.
It also asked them to provide their own transportation during the first week of school and that the band will provided financial relief to help offset the cost.
Boissoneau says the lack of communication from the First Nation left him having to scramble to find enough PPE for the students as he thought the band office would be providing it.
He says this should have been discussed weeks ago.
As of Saturday morning, Boissoneau says it has been radio silence from the First Nation.