Bearskin Lake First Nation COVID-19 outbreak, await military help

Patty Hajdu

Image: Patty Hajdu. Image credit: Twitter handle

Military assistance is being sought by a First Nation in northern Ontario for a week after it declared an emergency over a COVID-19 outbreak that resulted in nearly half of its 400 residents infected.

Many in the community were isolated, including the chief with very few essential workers available to provide basic services and distribute supplies to households, including food, water.

The federal government had received a formal request for assistance from the Ontario government for Bearskin Lake First Nation, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said on Twitter on Jan 6.

 About $1.2 million has been reportedly allocated by the Department of Indigenous Services to provide supplies and cover the costs of transportation to the community, said Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu.

Located about 425 kilometers north of Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Bearskin Lake First Nation is among 32 of the 49 Nishnawbe Aski Nation communities only accessible by plane and reportedly doesn’t have a hospital, an emergency unit, or even a doctor on call