Monday, October 3, 2022

Bearskin Lake chief ‘disappointed’ by Ottawa’s response to COVID crisis – National |

The head of a COVID-hit First Nation community in Northwestern Ontario said Wednesday he is “disappointed” by the federal government’s response to the community’s 10-day request for military help, even as A spokesman for the Canadian Armed Forces told reporters that the leaders of the Bearskin Lake First Nation were “delighted” by the military response.

Bearskin Lake chief 'disappointed' by Ottawa's response to COVID crisis - National |

Meanwhile, the federal government says the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Bearskin Lake First Nation is moving from emergency mode to recovery support as the number of residents in isolation drops. Indigenous Services Canada said that, as of late Tuesday, 65 residents of the northern Ontario community are now in isolation, down from numbers earlier this week, in which more than half of the 400 or so residents of the community were in isolation.

On 28 December, as cases continued to rise – forcing many people in the community to self-isolate even if they were not infected – the First Nation declared a state of emergency and on 3 January, most of the community literally Closed. To avoid further spread in their homes, the community asked 40 military personnel to help with basic tasks such as chopping and hauling firewood – nearly all homes at Bearskin Lake rely on wood stoves for heat – as well as Along with distributing food, water, and medicine to self-isolating families.

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The provincial government formally passed a request for help at Bearskin Lake on January 6, and two days later, three Army Rangers were dispatched from CFB Borden near Barrie, Ont., to assess the needs of the community. He did not remain in the Rangers community but returned to his base.

Click to play video: 'Kovid-19: Army to help virus-hit Bearskin Lake First Nation'

COVID-19: Army to help virus-hit Bearskin Lake First Nation

COVID-19: Army to help virus-hit Bearskin Lake First Nation

Following that assessment – a copy of which has not been released despite a request from Global News – the federal government on Sunday decided to activate more Army Rangers to help the community, but instead of sending 40 as requested, The federal government activated only a handful, most of whom already live in the community and were recovering from COVID-19 themselves.

Bearskin Lake First Nation chief Lefty Kamenawatamin said on Wednesday that he had been told seven army rangers were to be deployed, but only three rangers had arrived in the community. Kamenawatamin said that they had been told that four additional rangers would be deployed from the group of rangers living in their community, but Kamenawatamin said that had not happened and therefore, at the end of the day on Wednesday, a total of five Canadian Rangers would be deployed. Bearskin is stationed at Lake First. Nation, not seven as promised – and not asked for 40.

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“We are disappointed with Canada’s response,” said Kamenawatamin, who is recovering after testing himself positive on Saturday. “Our community was eagerly waiting for help, and we were comforted by the thought that Canada would step in to provide us with much-needed physical and moral support. In the end, however, this help has been minimal.”

“This situation and the promises Canada has made to the Bearskin Lake First Nation are just another example of a long history of dishonesty and neglect from Canadian governments,” a First Nation statement issued Wednesday afternoon said.

And yet, the message reaching the military in Ottawa was quite different.

“In our communications with the community, leaders have told us they are pleased with the support they have received from the CAF,” Major Sonia Dumouchel Konock, a spokeswoman for the Ontario Regional Task Force of Canadian Forces, said in a statement to Global News late Tuesday. “The support effort has thus shifted from emergency response to recovery aid.”

Connock said the military would continue to work with the community to assess if circumstances changed and noted that no other First Nations had requested military assistance.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Bearskin Lake leader says Fed had 'dismissive attitude' after pleas for aid.

COVID-19: Bearskin Lake leader says Fed had ‘dismissive attitude’ after pleas for aid

COVID-19: Bearskin Lake leader says Fed had ‘dismissive attitude’ after pleas for aid

Defense Minister Anita Anand tweeted on Wednesday that she had spoken to Canadian Rangers on the ground at Bearskin Lake.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about the situation during a press conference on Wednesday and said the government has been “extremely present” in the community.

“We are seeing the situation turn a corner and see it getting better, but we will continue to be as needed in that community and communities across the country,” he said.

Read more:

Ottawa’s response to Bearskin Lake shows ‘apathy’ amid COVID-19 outbreak: Angus

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu has said the government is paying the cost of deploying dozens of volunteers and health care workers to nearby communities at a cost of about $1.2 million so far.

So far, no member of the community has been seriously ill or required medical evacuation, possibly the result of a robust vaccination program in which about 84 percent of the community has been fully vaccinated, with multiple boosters.

“Certainly. The situation could have been much worse if there had not been a high vaccination coverage rate in the community,” said Dr. Lloyd Douglas of the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, which serves many First Nations in the region, including Includes Bearskin Lake First Nation.

Read more:

Rangers arrive at Bearskin Lake First Nation in Ontario to aid in COVID outbreak

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NDP MP Charlie Angus, who represents the imminent ride of Timmins-James Bay, said on Tuesday that the government’s decision not to offer members of the Canadian Forces requested by the community was “indifferent” to the health of indigenous Canadians. displays to.

“I think what this government is doing here is sending a message not only to Bearskin Lake, but also to all the other First Nations communities that are facing O’Miron, ‘Don’t bother calling You are on your own,'” Angus told Global News on Tuesday.

He specifically pointed to a Twitter post by Defense Minister Anita Anand, which featured members of the Canadian military who were deployed to help COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Quebec amid rising cases of the highly infectious Omicron variant. has been done.

“You’re saying to the people of Bearskin Lake: ‘Sorry – too bad, too sad, you got nothing.'”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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