The Canadian Ranger group activated April 3 at the request of the Quebec government will be helping heathcare workers and spreading the word about social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19 across Nunavik.
At the moment, there are currently four confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus – three in Puvirnituk and one in Salluit.
The Rangers, made up of Canadian Forces reservists, are located throughout 14 communities that make up Nunavik and are part of the 2nd Canadian Ranger group.
According to Capt. Julie Page, information officer for the group, the Rangers aren’t expected to be in direct contact with infected patients.
“Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be distributed to Rangers and they will be trained to properly use this equipment for their safety,” said Page. “However, at this time, there is no task putting them in harms way requiring the use of PPE. Rangers are preparing triage points to help the work of healthcare personnel.”
A number of communities have requested help from Canada’s military.
Kashechewan First Nation in northern Ontario, which is waiting for the spring flood season to begin, is requesting help setting up a temporary community on higher ground because its members can no longer be relocated due to the pandemic.
Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said any community that needs help will get it.
“We’ve already allocated millions of dollars to community support programs in Indigenous communities,” Trudeau said at his daily briefing outside his home in Ottawa. “As for further assistance or military assistance, that will always be made on a case by case basis depending on the individual circumstances and how we can best help as a government.
“That is what we’re always going to be looking at.”
A number of Manitoba communities are also calling for help from the military.
They want hospital tents set up in case the virus gets into their communities.
At the moment there is one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Thompson, Man and another in Flin Flon. Both are close to First Nation communities.
The rangers in Nunavik will be elevated to permanent status throughout their time assisting with Nunavik’s fight.
According to the Kativik Regional Government, there’s no shortage of tasks to be done.
“When required, they will conduct missions on the land to inform people on the need to practice social distancing and avoid gatherings even in remote areas,” said an April 3 news release. “They will work hand in hand with the local emergency response teams in each Community, when required, to distribute food, set-up tents and medical equipment along with other areas requiring manpower.
“The Rangers will become an important asset in the day-to-day operations of the local emergency response teams.”
With files from Jamie Pashagumskum