THUNDER BAY – INDIGENOUS – Several First Nations are in States of Emergency over COVID-19. Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare issued the following statement calling for urgent action to curb the spread of COVID-19:
“Confirmed cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in First Nations communities in Ontario are continuing to climb, due to overcrowding and unsustainable housing and lack of testing,” said Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare. “Leaving behind a significant strain on the healthcare system and reduced capacity of essential workers and health care providers.”
“I am urging all First Nations to reduce their contacts as much as possible by staying home to keep infection rates down, and for those who have not received a vaccine to do so and for others to get a booster to slow the spread of the Omicron variant in their communities. As well, those with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are presumed to be positive. I encourage anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, to stay home and follow isolation and self-monitoring guidelines.
Additionally, I would like to commend Chief Lefty Kamenawatamin of Bearskin Lake First Nation for his leadership in keeping his community safe while they respond to a COVID-19 outbreak. I also acknowledge the leadership and efforts of the many individuals and communities who have mobilized to provide Bearskin Lake with support, resources and donations of critical supplies.
However, more needs to be done. As Regional Chief, I am requesting all levels of government to accelerate their efforts and mobilize to ensure Bearskin Lake has the resources and capacity to operate testing and isolation centres. I am echoing their call for the Government of Canada to immediately deploy the Canadian Armed Forces to assist Bearskin Lake First Nation and prepare to be on standby to assist other communities, as more will likely be affected in coming weeks and months.”
Chiefs of Ontario and Regional Chief Glen Hare will continue to monitor this changing situation closely and support communities throughout this crisis, as requested.
“I know how difficult this pandemic continues to be but I am urging all to not let your guard down and continue to practice preventative measures, such as mask-wearing and physical distancing, to keep our Elders, families and communities safe. We are all in this together and we will weather this storm.”
Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare