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Neskantaga First Nation Declares of State of Emergency

Neskantaga First Nation Declares of State of Emergency

Off Reserve Member COVID-19 Outbreak

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO     ~~~~~~~~~  February 23, 2021  (LSN)  Neskantaga First Nation (NFN) Chief and Council have issued a declaration of state of emergency with respect to a large number of off-reserve members in Thunder Bay testing positive for COVID-19. “We are experiencing an outbreak among Neskantaga First Nation members with 6% of our off-reserve membership testing positive for COVID-19,” said Chief Chris Moonias, of Neskantaga First Nation. “With 12 members being positively identified, including 1 in critical condition at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre—we are deeply troubled by this trend we are seeing among our off-reserve membership.”

Within the Declaration of Emergency, factors are identified as attributing to the outbreak including the high rates of COVID-19 cases in Thunder Bay and homeless. The state of emergency calls for Indigenous Services Canada to fund emergency housing to accommodate the homeless population who have been forced off-reserve due to a lack of housing, in order to lower their risk of contracting COVID-19 and further support their health and safety.

For the information of the public, the community put together a preliminary outline of issues Neskantaga First Nation is challenged with during the COVID-19 pandemic in a Fact Sheet.

FACT SHEET ON COVID-19 IMPACTS February 23, 2021 The following represents a preliminary outline of issues Neskantaga First Nation is challenged with during the COVID-19 pandemic:
• Overcrowded housing which affects the ability to isolate (both for on-reserve and for members in urban areas)
• Homelessness (both for on-reserve and for members in urban areas)
• Inability for homeless to return back to home community during the pandemic due to lack of isolation infrastructure and lack of adequate housing
• High number of crises and state of emergencies (SOE)
• Water and infrastructure deficits and disrepair in the community (experienced an evacuation twice within 2 years and it is an ongoing issue which continues to challenge dayto-day life)
• Long standing legacy issues and trauma (creating health and safety, as well as mental health challenges)
• Existing 2013 SOE due to poor living conditions and a high number of suicides
• Poor housing conditions and lack of housing (mold and substandard living conditions)
• With a young and growing population the community cannot keep up with housing requirements (needs become greater, Youth require ongoing supports) • Addictions, mental health and social issues
• Colonialism and experience of racism and discrimination in urban areas
• Lack of internet connectivity affecting ability to access resources on mental health and medical care
• COVID-19 exposures and long-term effects taking its toll on the wellness of people and families involved
• Lack of resources for medical services and long-term care homes • High cost of living (inability to access nutrition and foods needed to maintain health)
• High rates of diabetes and other chronic diseases
• High cost of fuel (currently $2.69/litre at local community store)
• Lack of resources for land-based healing
• Lack of access to construction and home maintenance supplies
• Increased anxiety and stress
• Transportation issues • Cargo and freight ordering due to pandemic has increased
• Essential needs for babies are hard to come by at the local store (diapers, pullups, wipes, etc.)
• Community has been under lockdown and in a state of crisis since the pandemic began
• Life in community has drastically changed due to ongoing water, infrastructure issues and due in large part to the pandemic situation – this is a challenge and ongoing

#LSN_FirstNation #LSN_Health 

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