Bearskin Lake First Nation waiting for military help after COVID-19 outbreak

·1 min read

Bearskin Lake First Nation in northern Ontario is waiting for military assistance a week after it declared an emergency due to a COVID-19 outbreak that has infected nearly half of its 400 residents and crippled the community.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Derek Fox says the community of which he is a member needs military personnel on the ground immediately to assist in providing the basic supplies including water, wood and food.

Fox says a lot of the essential workers in the community are sick with COVID-19 or isolating at their homes, including the First Nation Chief Lefty Kamenawatamin.

He says the federal government has not provided the needed help despite the dire situation on the ground.

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu says the government is looking into the First Nation's request for military assistance.

Hajdu says she has contacted Defence Minister Anita Anand about the request, which will be processed as soon there is more clarity on the skill sets that are needed to help the First Nation.

The community 425 kilometres north of Sioux Lookout, Ont., declared a state of emergency last week when COVID-19 started spreading among its on-reserve population.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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