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NAN COVID-19 Bulletin- May 11, 2020

NAN COVID-19 Bulletin- May 11, 2020

Nishnawbe Aski Nation COVID-19 Update       

  • The NAN Executive Council express their deepest condolences to family and friends of Chief Celia Echum, the community of Ginoogaming First Nation and Matawa First Nations as we all mourn her passing. She was a fierce leader and advocate, and her friendship will be greatly missed.
  • The NAN Executive also send condolences to the family and friends of Derek Stephen, former Chief of Kashechewan First Nation, and former Executive Director of NAN Legal Services.
Thunder Bay District Health UnitConfirmed Positive (May 10): 78
Active Cases: 7
Resolved Cases: 70
Deceased: 1
Porcupine Health UnitNumber of cases (May 11): 65
Currently Under Investigation: 228
Resolved Cases: 49
Deceased: 5
Northwestern Health UnitPositive tests (May 8): 16
Pending tests: 1152
Resolved: 16
  • The province of Ontario has extended the public health restrictions until June 2nd. Flood & Fire Evacuations
  • Kashechewan First Nation is currently at low-to moderate risk of flooding.
  • NAN understands that Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) will be doing further surveillance and expect confirmation that there is low to no risk of flooding.The concept of evacuations this year is to proceed with shelter in place as long as it is safe to do so. With respect to the fire distance radius, there are ongoing discussions with MNRF, and communities are encouraged to work with them to establish specific community boundary lines this year. NAN will assist in connecting the communities with MNR.
  • NAN reminds communities to make decisions about evacuations in the event of an emergency with a COVID-19 lens, as there are very different considerations.

Minister Marc Miller Opening Remarks

  • I would like to send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Chief Celia Echum and former Chief Derek Stephen.
  • The team at Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is ready to respond to any flood or fire emergencies and evacuations.
  • I would like to acknowledge the great work of the NAN political leadership during COVID- 19 pandemic response.

Minister Patty Hajdu Opening Remarks

  • I would like to send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Chief Celia Echum and former Chief Derek Stephen. I had the privilege of getting to know Chief Echum over the last 5 years with Ginoogaming First Nation being a part of my riding.
  • The new normal is life with COVID. We will need to proceed with a great deal of care and monitoring until a vaccine is developed.
  • We are working hard as a federal government to support the provinces through this process and ensuring we have the right measures in place to keep everyone safe.
  • Working on creating a stronger health safety net to address the long-standing health inequities.
  • We are watching worksites very closely (mining, construction, and forestry sectors) to ensure First Nation employees and communities remain safe to reduce the spread.

Question & Answer

  • How does the wage subsidy announced by the federal government apply to First Nations’ essential workers?
    • Minister Miller: This announcement is not intended to leave essential workers on reserve at a disadvantage. Details around the announcement are not out yet. We are working to get clarity on this, and I will provide information as it becomes available.
  • Can we expect guidelines on the wage subsidy?
    • Minister Miller: No answer for this at this time as the details are not out yet.
  • Can you provide direction on how students can acquire technology like Chromebook, iPads, etc. to complete the school year? We are also trying to figure out operations for next fall and would like to know how school year funding is going to have commitment for those resources. Finally, the connectivity is poor in our community and how/when can we address that?
    • Minister Miller: I would encourage you to work with our department on these concerns; we have had an influx of questions under Jordan’s Principle funding for that type of resources for support, there is probably more structured approach required and I encourage you to work with our team to ensure we address this need.
  • Students in remote reserves are being encouraged by parents to go to the land for activities (learning land-based skills while school is out). Communities need funding support to bring those students to the land.
    • Minister Miller: Encourage you to work with our office and Griffin Marsh.
  • Broadband connectivity is very poor in our First Nation communities, when and how can we address that? KNET is developing a proposal to upgrade the systems in the communities and the services provided.
    • Minister Miller: Generally supportive of it but would need to look at the specific proposal and look at it across different Ministries.
  • There is an outbreak of COVID-19 with Elders in the south, but in the north, we do not have enough support for Elders.
    • Minister Miller: Have been trying to reach out to communities with Elders’ homes to ensure they have the proper support. We are looking at the various financial needs we require for the unpredictable path of this virus. If you need extra supports, it is a matter of articulating them to us so that we can respond to them quickly.
  • Urban Indigenous Organizations funding that was announced back in early April to assist those community members. Matawa First Nations Management did apply and have yet to hear a response or acknowledgement of receipt of the proposal.
    • Minister Miller: We have deployed an insufficient amount of funds into the urban centres and are working to get additional funds to fund a great number of proposals that came in around urban areas. It is a hole that we are attempting to fill, but I do not deny the $15 million that was reserved for urban initiatives was over prescribed. I do not have a commitment or timeline for your request, but it was given to many urban communities on an emergency basis, but I do not consider that the end of conversation on this topic.
  • What is the status of the Spartan testing kits?
    • Minister Hajdu: There was a glitch with Spartan. They were proving to be quite useful in the trial setting but when they went into a community setting the accuracy of the test was questionable. Health Canada is working closely with the company right now. We completely agree we need to find testing for communities that are hard to access. The main issue is in the swabs. They are looking to get some positive changes out of the company at the end of June, early July.
  • Neskantaga First Nation has been under boil water advisory for 25 years. There have been numerous delays in the flawed design of the old water treatment system that cannot support the capacity of the new upgrades. We would like Minister Miller to intervene as there have been roadblocks in place by bureaucrats. Would like a meeting via video or teleconference.
    • Minister Miller: I will loop back with my team to review the letter that was sent by the community and arrange a call to discuss.
  • How we can access the RT-PCR Test Kits?
    • Minister Hajdu: I do not have the answer right in front of me. What I will do is to get my team to look into that particular test and respond directly.

NAN COVID-19 Task Team                                                                                                                                           

  • It is recommended that NAN First Nations continue to restrict non-essential travel in and out of the communities to protect community members from coming in contact with COVID- 19.

Ontario’s Plan to Reopen/ Ease Restrictions

  • Health and Safety continues to be paramount as the guide to reopening and easing restrictions.
  • The NAN COVID-19 Task Team is in the process of finalizing a document that will be shared with the leadership in draft by tomorrow so that we can discuss further on Thursday’s call.
    • This will be a guide for communities to use when they begin to consider re-opening and easing restrictions.
  • NAN encourages Chiefs and Councils to begin to have these important discussions at the community level.
  • We are hopeful that all decisions for individual communities will be supported by the Provincial and Federal Governments, including funding necessary to implement increased health and safety measures as re-opening begins slowly.

Communications                                                                                                                                           

  • Members of the NAN Executive Council will continue to appear on Wawatay Radio on Tuesday at 12 pm EST and on Friday at 1:05 pm EST.
  • COVID-19 Tools and Resources are being translated into Oji-Cree, Ojibway, and Cree to assist the communities in spreading awareness and public health messaging on COVID-19. They are posted on the NAN website under COVID-19 Tools and Resources as they become available.

Urban Communities                                                                                                                                           

  • NAN has posted specific information on the NAN website for members living off-reserve in urban centres across northwestern and northeastern Ontario.
    • This includes how to find shelters, food banks, social and mental health services, as well as Indigenous organizations that can assist.
  • Please continue to access our website as we are constantly updating it with the most up to date information: www.nancovid19.ca

NEXT CALL: Thursday, May 14, 2020 | 1p.m. EST | 12p.m. CST

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