'Ski-doo train' bringing supplies to remote First Nation amid large COVID-19 outbreak

Jan 6 2022, 6:31 pm

Bearskin Lake First Nation in Ontario is requesting military aid after more than half of on-reserve residents tested positive for COVID-19.

As of January 6, 174 residents have tested positive for COVID-19. The First Nation community declared a state of emergency on December 29. The band’s administration and essential staff are among those infected.

“The virus is vicious, and it does not discriminate,” said Bearskin Lake First Nation Chief Lefty Kamenawatamin in a statement.

Bearskin Lake First Nation has called upon the Canadian military to help during this crisis. The majority of households are under quarantine and need food and essential supplies delivered to their doors.

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

A GoFundMe has been set up for the First Nation community in an effort to help get desperately needed supplies. Bearskin Lake First Nation is a fly-in community. Residents from nearby communities have been ski-dooing supplies to those in quarantine in their homes.

“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,” said Chief Kamenawatamin.

One resident who was quarantining inside was brought to tears when the volunteers brought firewood to her home.

Others are sharing the long lines of ski-dooing volunteers from another First Nation community as they work through the dark and freezing cold to help their community.

Communities have banded together to provide aid in absence of government support.

“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 the the military be deployed to us immediately to assist us,” said Chief Kamenawatamin.

Brooke TaylorBrooke Taylor

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