Bearskin Lake First Nation at 174 Positive Cases of COVID-19

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Help headed from KI to Bearskin Lake via
As of this evening there are 127 positive cases of covid in the community - Image Facebook

Thunder Bay – COVID-19 Update – Bearskin Lake First Nation is now at 174 positive cases of COVID-19.

In a community radio address, Chief Kam told the community that fifty-two households are isolated in the community of about 500.

Infants, children, youth, adult and elders are infected with the virus, both vaccinated and unvaccinated.

The Chief has spoken with Minister Patty Hajdu he said.

There are verbal commitments of funding. However those funds have not been transferred yet.

There is another convoy of trucks headed into Bearskin from Muskrat Dam First Nation with firewood.

Off reserve community members have been heading home to help out in Bearskin Lake.

Kyle Fournier a spokesperson for Indigenous Services Canada tells NetNewsLedger, “Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is working closely with Bearskin Lake First Nation leadership, Windigo First Nations Tribal Council, the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA), and the local public health unit to support the community to implement immediate measures to stop further spread and provide resources and supports required to protect residents and ensure health protocols are effectively undertaken. ISC is reassessing the situation daily.

ISC mobilized a Rapid Response Team out of Thunder Bay, including a GeneXpert automated molecular testing device. The team arrived in Bearskin Lake First Nation on December 30, 2021.

ISC deployed three (3) primary care nurses, one (1) paramedic, and two (2) environmental health officers into the community to provide surge capacity; the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority has deployed two (2) public health nurses; and Windigo First Nations Tribal Council deployed one (1) home care nurse.

On December 23, 2021, Indigenous Services Canada approved the SLFNHA request on behalf of the twenty-two (22) communities identified in the proposal –including Bearskin Lake First Nation – for $25,280,799 for 2021/22. This funding will provide isolation capacity, supplies and transportation for materials scheduled to come up the winter road. This brings SLFNHA pandemic related funding to a total of over $66.7M since March 2020.

An amount of $415K was approved for Bearskin Lake First Nation on December 30, 2021, to immediately put in place airport security, winter road and community perimeter security measures.

A funding proposal from Windigo First Nations Tribal Council on behalf of Bearskin Lake First Nation for outbreak response and community support was received on December 31, 2021. The request was reviewed on an urgent basis and Chief Kamenawatamin was informed within 24 hours that $483K was approved for food security, PPE and prevention supplies, isolation accommodation and set-up, transportation, and wages for community-based workers. ISC is scheduled to meet with community representatives on January 2 to discuss any outstanding questions related to the funding proposal.

Since March 2020, in addition to regular program funding, ISC has allocated over $4.3M directly to Bearskin Lake First Nation to support the community’s COVID-19 response, including additional funds allocated to date to address urgent outbreak needs. The funding supports, not only food security, community response and prevention to COVID-19, but as well, mental health and wellness needs, social programs, the safe use and operation of community infrastructure, and Indigenous early learning and childcare.

In a joint initiative with the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, ISC held vaccine clinics in Bearskin Lake First Nation in November and December to distribute first, second, and third doses of COVID-19 vaccine under Operation Remote Immunity 3.0. Bearskin Lake First Nation can provide updated information about the number of vaccines administered at the clinics.

ISC and Indigenous community partners are grateful for the dedication and support from healthcare professionals and individuals who continue to go above and beyond their regular duties to ensure communities are fully supported during these exceptional times”.