Support for Bearskin Lake First Nation Ongoing


THUNDER BAY – INDIGENOUS NEWS – Bearskin Lake First Nation is in crisis with surging numbers of COVID-19 cases. The community which has about 500 people living on reserve is in a declared state of emergency.

Support is starting to pour in. That help is coming from local First Nation communities, including Sandy Lake, Muskrat Dam, KI and others. It is also coming from the federal government.

Minister of Indigenous Services Canada Patty Hajdu tells NetNewsLedger that funding has been approved to assist the community and ongoing help is continuing.

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) state that the Ministry is working closely with Bearskin Lake First Nation leadership, the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, Windigo Mental Health, and the local public health unit to support the community in implementing immediate measures to reduce the chances of further spread and identify any additional resources and supports required to help protect residents and ensure health protocols can effectively be undertaken. ISC will continually reassess the situation as it progresses and will not hesitate to provide all necessary supports to Bearskin Lake First Nation.

ISC is mobilizing 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 has deployed three (3) primary care nurses, one (1) paramedic, and two (2) environmental health officers into community to provide surge capacity.

The Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority has deployed two (2) public health nurse and Windigo deployed one (1) home care nurse.

A funding proposal from Bearskin Lake First Nation for airport and winter road perimeter security measures was approved on December 31, 2021.

Since March 2020, ISC has allocated approximately $3.9M directly to Bearskin Lake First Nation to support the community’s COVID-19 response, including additional funds allocated today to address the ongoing emergency needs. The funding also supports mental health and wellness, social programs, the safe reopening of community infrastructure, and Indigenous early learning and childcare.

On December 23, 2021, Indigenous Services Canada approved the Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority’s request on behalf of the twenty-two (22) communities identified in the proposal –including Bearskin Lake First Nation– for a total of $25,280,799 for 2021/22.

In a joint initiative 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 the COVID-19 vaccine under Operation Remote Immunity 3.0. Please note that Bearskin Lake First Nation is best placed to provide details about the number of vaccines administered at these clinics.

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