THUNDER BAY – INDIGENOUS – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Derek Fox is calling on provincial and federal ministries and agencies to provide the necessary supports as Constance Lake First Nation has declared a State of Emergency due to an outbreak of a deadly lung infection.
“We are very concerned with the situation in Constance Lake and have assured Chief Ramona Sutherland and Council that we are prepared to assist in any way possible. We look to our federal and provincial Treaty partners to support Constance Lake with the resources they require to address this crisis including access to health care, testing, and mental health supports,” said Grand Chief Derek Fox. “This is an extremely serious situation, and we appreciate the support and cooperation the community has received so far. We are hopeful that environmental testing will help the community understand and contain the problem as quickly as possible. We continue to pray for members of Constance Lake and ask that people keep them in their thoughts and prayers.”
The State of Emergency was declared due to the recent and sudden deaths and illness of community members from probable cases of blastomycosis, the source of which has not been identified.
Blastomycosis is a serious pulmonary infection that results from inhalation of fungal spores most often found in moist soil and decaying organic matter. The source of the fungal spores is currently unknown, increasing the risk of exposure significantly.
There is an urgent need for testing to happen immediately to identify the source of the fungal spores. Community members with existing medical conditions are at greater risk, and due to the unknown source, there is currently an unacceptable risk to life.
Constance Lake First Nation is a road-access Oji-Cree community located on the shores of Constance Lake near Hearst in northeastern Ontario.