THUNDER BAY – INDIGENOUS – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Derek Fox has issued the following statement in support of Bearskin Lake First Nation and all NAN communities struggling to deal with steadily rising cases of COVID-19:
“The situation in Bearskin Lake is unprecedented. More than 35 per cent of the population has tested positive for COVID-19 and we are approaching the point where half of the community could be affected if the spread of this virus cannot be stopped.
Chief Kamenawatamin has been working non-stop to care for his members while doing everything he can to prevent the spread of this virus. If this was happening in any city in Canada an immediate response would have been mobilized.
Bearskin has been forced to rely on neighbouring communities for assistance, and we are grateful for their support. NAN and our Tribal Councils are responding as best we can to arrange charters to ship vital supplies of PPE, food, and water, but we are not equipped to respond to emergencies. We acknowledged that the federal government has made a funding commitment to Bearskin Lake, and we look to both levels of government to provide the necessary support to all of our communities experiencing similar challenges.
Throughout this pandemic we have had a positive relationship with various levels of government and agencies, and we appreciate the support our communities received through the first waves of COVID-19. We are redoubling efforts to continue this work in a good way so our communities can receive the same level of care as the rest of the country.”
Bearskin Lake First Nation declared a State of Emergency on December 29, 2021. Currently, there are active cases reported in nine NAN First Nations including Fort Albany, Ginoogaming, Moose Factory, Sandy Lake, Poplar Hill, Lac Seul, Bearskin Lake, Kashechewan and Marten Falls.