Bearskin Lake Chief – “No Boots on the Ground”

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Rangers deliver food and other essentials to residents in their homes when a COVID-19 crisis forced Ginoogaming First Nation into a lockdown.
Rangers deliver food and other essentials to residents in their homes when a COVID-19 crisis forced Ginoogaming First Nation into a lockdown.

THUNDER BAY – NEWS – Bearskin Lake Chief Lefty Kamenawatamin says, “There is so much fake news, there’s no military here, no boots, not even a cowboy boot”.

The Chief reporting to the community says that “Three Canadian Rangers came in yesterday to work with local Canadian Rangers for two weeks”.

The community of 400 now has 217 cases of COVID-19.

Community leadership is hopeful that number will start to decline this week as cases are resolved.

Government officials including Public Safety Minister Bill Blair have said that military help is on the way to Bearskin Lake.

The community has been sounding the alarm since late December when a State of Emergency was declared as COVID-19 numbers started soaring.

Sources tell NetNewsLedger that the Canadian Armed Forces were on for the most part their annual Holiday Leave in late December.

Canadian Rangers have been activated across the region helping in a number of other communities through the COVID-19 Pandemic.

However the Rangers now activated in Bearskin Lake were there already. The promise of “boots on the ground” from Minister Blair appears to be inaccurate at this time.

Kenora MP Eric Mellilo says, “I spoke to Chief Lefty Kamenawatamin once again this morning. It is clear Bearskin Lake is not getting the help they need to weather this crisis.
The Chief requested military support on January 1st. The government waited over a week to act and only sent a handful of Rangers. The community is overwhelmed and needs more support than this.”

Ranger Go Teams have helped communities. The Canadian Rangers are part-time reservists in the Canadian Army.