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Aazhogan Limited Partnership Acquires the International Bridge

Press Release

FORT FRANCES, ON, May 20, 2022 – Aazhogan Limited Partnership, a partnership of Rainy River First Nations and The BMI Group, today announced the acquisition of the International Bridge that connects Fort Frances, Ontario and International Falls, Minnesota. The purchase involves the Canadian bridge assets between Fort Frances, Ontario and International Falls, Minnesota.

This transaction secures full ownership of the landmark toll bridge and international border crossing by the two partners. The Aazhogan partners previously purchased the US side in May 2021.

Says Chief Rob McGinnis, Rainy River First Nations; “This is a historic day for the people and communities of the Rainy River First Nations. Our ancestors lived on both sides of this river for generations; long before the arrival of settlers and the creation of a border. This was a corridor where families and communities lived, fished, hunted and traded goods. It is a significant moment in our history for this crossing to return to our First Nations people.”

The International Bridge is comprised of two side by side bridges, one of steel and the other of concrete, that were constructed in 1908 and 1979, respectively.  The bridge is the busiest border crossing in northwestern Ontario and a vital socio-economic linkage between Canada and the United States for visitors and commercial trade.

Says Paul Veldman, President of the BMI Group; “We are thrilled to be partners with Rainy River First Nations on the purchase of the bridge. Like the communities, we want to ensure the Bridge remains open for tourism and trade. It is one of the key components for a sustainable economy and will form part of a welcoming experience for everyone who crosses the Bridge into Fort Frances and International Falls.”

The bridge acquisition is one of several strategic partnerships and business ventures currently underway by Rainy River First Nations. The community’s vision is highly progressive and focused on growing its economic assets to create new opportunities.

Continues Chief McGinnis; “This partnership and bridge acquisition is an exemplary model of the types of business transactions we are actively working on for 2022 and beyond. This leadership team is committed to successfully executing on our First Nations’ vision of self-sufficiency and self-government. There are no limitations to what we can achieve together. I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has supported us on this journey so far.”

Notes to Editors:

About Aazhogan LP

Rainy River First Nations and The BMI Group formed their partnership in 2019.  The word Aazhogan means “Bridge” and is meant to represent both the International Bridge and the opportunities associated with bridging ideas and initiatives.

Rainy River First Nations, otherwise known as Manitou Rapids, is one of seven original First Nation communities which were situated along the Rainy River prior to being amalgamated by Canada and Ontario in 1916. Rainy River First Nations owns several businesses including ownership interest in a strip mall located in the Town of Fort Frances, Manitou Forest Products in Rainy River First Nations and a 25-megawatt solar project in the Townships of Dawson and Morley. Rainy River First Nations prides itself in establishing new partnerships and initiatives that support sustainable region-wide development.

The BMI Group is a restorative development company that revitalizes industrial properties. The BMI group is actively working on exciting new initiatives in Red Rock, Ontario with Red Rock Developments and in the Niagara Region with the Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority. The BMI group is also actively working on various initiatives in Fort Frances, Ontario to welcome new development on the former pulp and paper mill which are currently being decommissioned.

For further information: Media Contact: Stephanie Ash, Firedog Communications, Tel: (807) 472-5276, Email: [email protected]

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