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Bearskin Lake seeks military help

At least 174 people in the remote community have been diagnosed with COVID-19, crippling critical municipal operations.
Bearskin Lake First Nation 4

BEARSKIN LAKE FIRST NATION – Leaders in Bearskin Lake First Nation are asking the military to deploy in the COVID-19-ravaged  community.

In a release issued on Monday, community leaders say at present there are 174 individuals in Bearskin Lake with COVID-19, including the administrative and essential staff that run the band’s administration, operation and maintenance units.

The community’s infrastructure operation is crippled, Chief Lefty Kamenawatamin said.

“The virus is vicious, and it does not discriminate,” Kamenawatamin said in the release. “Our babies and children, mothers, and Elders have all been hit. We are reeling at the speed of the spread of this potentially deadly disease. This outbreak has stretched our resources and our capacity to the point of breaking.”

Kamenawatamin said the community has a poorly resourced public health-care system, few nurses and do not have the ability to separate infected members from uninfected members.

A state of emergency was declared on Dec. 29, and most households are under quarantine and require food and water delivery, chopped wood for heating and medication to relieve fever and pain.

“We have requested financial and other supports from the federal government, but we have been told that the assistance we will get is minimal,” Kamenawatamin said.

“We will not get funds to bring crisis personnel to Bearskin Lake – which signals to us that we are on our own. I must now implore Canada and Canadians for their assistance and request that the military be deployed to us immediately to assist us.”

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