Bearskin Lake COVID-19 cases ‘rapidly declining’, no hospitalizations: Hajdu | The Canadian News

Canada’s Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said Thursday that COVID-19 cases are “declining rapidly” in Bearskin Lake First Nation and there have been no hospitalizations so far.

The First Nation, about 600 kilometers north of Thunder Bay, Ontario, declared an emergency on December 28 due to an outbreak of COVID-19 that has infected 201 of its 400 members.

There were 47 active cases as of Wednesday, according to Hajdu, and the numbers are “going in the right direction.”

“This means that families and individuals can resume their daily activities and roles,” he said.

Read more:

Bearskin Lake chief ‘disappointed’ with Ottawa’s response to COVID crisis

Hajdu said dozens of Indigenous Services personnel have been deployed to the community, including from other First Nations communities, and she is “cautiously optimistic” of recovery.

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However, the government’s response has drawn criticism from the First Nation.

Chief Lefty Kamenawatamin said Wednesday that he is “disappointed” by the response. Initially, the community requested 40 military personnel on January 3 to help with basic tasks, such as cutting and carrying firewood, as many in the isolated community, but the Ontario government first approved the request and then it was resumed on January 6.

Three army rangers were dispatched two days later to assess the community’s needs, and as of Wednesday, five rangers are in the community.

Click to Play Video: 'Hajdu Says He Told Bearskin Lake Chief 'Open Line of Communication,' Talks Military Response'

Hajdu says he told Bearskin Lake chief there is ‘open line of communication’, talks about military response

Hajdu says he told Bearskin Lake chief there is ‘open line of communication’, talks about military response

“We are disappointed with Canada’s response,” Kamenawatamin said.

“Our community eagerly awaited the help, and we were comforted by the thought that Canada would step in to provide us with much-needed physical and moral support. In the end, however, this help has been minimal.”

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“This situation and the promises made by Canada to the Bearskin Lake First Nation only serve as another example in a long history of dishonesty and negligence by Canadian governments,” the First Nation said in a statement Wednesday.

Hajdu said on Thursday when asked how the government will improve its response that it is “frustrated” and then listed the measures that have been taken.

“I would say, honestly, I am also frustrated because of course I have been in contact with the leadership,” she said. “I reiterated that there is an open line of communication with me personally. The boss has my cell number.

“Obviously, we’re going to continue to be there.”

— with files from David Akin and Amanda Connolly of Global News

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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