The mayors of Fort Frances and International Falls had their trip to Washington, D.C. scrubbed Wednesday morning due to mechanical problems with their flight out of the Falls.
Mayor Onichuk said Thursday morning he was disappointed he and Falls Mayor Shawn Mason couldn’t make the trip in order to speak about cross-border relations, the passport issue, and to participate in the “Friends of Canada Caucus” and discuss “Meet Me at the Border” activities planned here for next week.
“Because of the work we’ve doing together, Mayor Mason and I were chosen out of all the mayors across the countries to do this,” Mayor Onichuk noted.
“It’s too bad, but we did end up getting our message through,” he added.
Mayor Onichuk noted he and Mayor Mason had a prepared statement forwarded to Stratford, Ont. Mayor Dan Mathieson, who delivered it to the Canadian Embassy in Washington.
As well, Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar made comments on the good relationship between Fort Frances and International Falls.
“We were told some of the representatives from the [Canadian] Embassy were, quite frankly, in tears,” said Mayor Onichuk. “They really wanted us to be there because of all the co-operation between the communities.
“Next year, they’re going to fly us in a day early.”
The mayors were scheduled to leave the Falls airport at 7 a.m. on Wednesday. But the flight was first delayed, and then cancelled, because of mechanical problems.
No other connecting flights could get be arranged to get them to Washington in time for the 5:30 p.m. conference.
The trip was being paid for by the Canadian Embassy.
In related news, Mayor Onichuk reiterated that plans are underway for a “Meet Me at the Border” celebration next Friday (June 30).
The schedule so far has dragon boat races at the Sorting Gap Marina at 2 p.m., a cross-river tug of war at 4 p.m., and a family barbecue in Smokey Bear Park in the Falls afterwards.
A cross-border scavenger hunt also is in the works. A finalized schedule will be out shortly.
Mayor Onichuk said anyone wanting to participate in either the dragon boat races or tug of war should call the Civic Centre at 274-5323.
Teams, such as Chambers of Commerce from both sides of the border, are being encouraged to register for the dragon boat races.
Meanwhile, 75 individuals age 18 and older from are wanted to sign up for the tug of war, which will involve a 1,500-ft. rope across the Rainy River.
The two communities received money from the Canadian consulate to organize these events, which are being held to celebrate cross-border relations.
Photos of these events will be taken by a professional photographer and sent back to the Canadian consulate to show the border communities’ relationship.