‘Can’t take any risks’: Kahnawake trying to find COVID-19 source that infected 5 people

With leaders preaching across the country for Indigenous people to take the COVID-19 pandemic serious, one nation in Quebec has five confirmed cases but can’t pinpoint the source.

That means Kahnawake’s numbers could go up said Lloyd Phillips, commissioner of public safety for the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake.

“The virus is in our community and it is spreading,” said Phillips on Nation to Nation Thursday of the cases that were confirmed early this week.

Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said people can’t take any risks and need to treat this virus seriously.

Bellegarde said he’s also clearly aware that some First Nations can’t practice the same isolation, that others can to limit the spread, because some homes on-reserve have a dozen people living in it.

“We don’t have the same quality of health care as everybody else in Canada, especially the 96 fly-in communities. They don’t have access to hospitals. And so even a simple thing like making sure there’s enough food at the Northern Stores or the co-op is going to be a big issue. Having access to rubber gloves and face masks and hand sanitizers and ventilators. Those are going to be challenges,” he said.

“Focus all levels of government, provincial governments, municipal governments and our own First Nation governments to make sure there’s adequate human and financial resources in place to meet the needs.”

Nation to Nation again spoke to Dr. Tom Wong, chief medical officer of public health at Indigenous Services, as well as Valerie Gideon, senior assistant deputy minister in the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch.

Both provided updates on what the federal government is doing in response to the pandemic.