For immediate release
December 5, 2020
Treaty Five Territory, Thompson, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc. is issuing this statement to provide updates on the growing COVID-19 outbreak in Shamattawa First Nation.
Grand Chief Garrison Settee states:
“This morning we woke up to the excellent news that the Canadian military will be deploying to Shamattawa First Nation, which today has 144 cases of COVID-19 in a very remote community of about 1300 people. They will assist with the ongoing outbreak and will set up a field hospital.
Members of the Bear Clan and the Canadian Red Cross are also arriving in Shamattawa this weekend to help with the COVID-19 outbreak. Many members of the community’s pandemic team in the community have either tested positive or are required to isolate. Assistance is absolutely needed to manage the increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Shamattawa.
I want to commend Chief Eric Redhead for his diligent advocacy for the residents of Shamattawa. Last week he asked for help from the Canadian military and he did not stop asking for this assistance. Yesterday Chief Redhead and I were able to meet with the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services Canada, where Chief Redhead demanded help from the military. I am thankful to the Minister, who is responsible for 633 First Nations across the country, for making time to meet with us and for taking action to help get Canada’s military to assist the people of Shamattawa.
Shamattawa First Nation is one of the most remote communities in Manitoba. They are not connected to the hydro grid and rely on diesel for electricity and fuel oil and wood to heat their homes. They have a water system that is not able to serve the entire community—they must use water delivery to cisterns for wastewater and water needs for some of the homes. It is not unusual for many people to live in one household. Overcrowded housing is a breeding ground for the COVID-19 virus. Unfortunately, the community of Shamattawa is also dealing with an outbreak of tuberculosis. This speaks loudly to the need for more housing for Shamattawa.
It is for these reasons that we must act swiftly when responding to requests for assistance from our First Nations. All First Nations want to be self-sufficient and we do not want to have to cry out for help, but we are all living in extraordinary times. All levels of government must work together and have ongoing and clear communication to mitigate the risks that come with this deadly virus.”
For more information:
Melanie Ferris, MKO Communications
Email: [email protected]