Kashechewan First Nation says COVID-19 outbreak hitting teenagers in the community

Feds say Canadian Rangers on the way to the community on the James Bay coast.


The chief of Kashechewan First Nation is calling on the federal government for help as an outbreak of COVID-19 has gripped the community, especially in its younger population.

The release issued Friday from Chief Leo Friday and Mushkegowuk Council, is calling the outbreak a “humanitarian crisis” as 114 out of the 1,800 members have tested positive for the virus.

The release says 77 of the 114 cases are young people under the age of 17.

“It didn’t have to be this way,” said Chief Leo Friday in the release. “For years we have been asking for help to address our housing and infrastructure needs.”

Chief and council are calling on the Canadian military to support and help erect field hospitals in the community located on the western shores of James Bay in Ontario, rather than tents.

“We have some 3-bedroom homes with 18 people living in them and others with four family groups. We are in the middle of an opioid addiction crises as well,” said the statement. “We are told time and again by the government to submit proposals for support, but the proposals all have been rejected or delayed.”

Friday couldn’t be reached for comment.

APTN News reached out to Miller’s office for a statement on the outbreak and how the government is going to help.

According to his office, the department is aware of the situation, taking part in regular calls with Kashechewan, Weeneebayko Area Health Authority and various Indigenous health organizations.

The statement said an additional $4.3 million has been transferred to the Mushkegowuk Council after a request for money.

‘ISC is working to ensure adequate health human resources are in-community and isolation space is available to support the communities’ needs—to this end ISC has deployed 15 nurses to the community, and provided an additional 10 nurses to support contact tracing and case management remotely,” the statement said.

The government says seven paramedics and an undisclosed number of physicians will be deployed.

“A team of Canadian Rangers have been deployed to the community and they are assisting the community with the rapid deployment of isolation tents.  So far 50 tents have been constructed, and 30 more tents will arrive in the community today.”

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