Leadership with Neskantaga First Nation is pushing the provincial and federal governments for resources and funding to address a state of emergency in their community.

It was declared after six percent of community members who are living in Thunder Bay, due to a lack of housing in Neskantaga, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past two weeks.

“217 out of 479 Neskantaga FN members live off-reserve due to severe shortage of housing in the community,” explained Neskantaga Chief Chris Moonias, who added the trend was ‘deeply troubling.’

“A lot of members’ experience homelessness, mental health and addiction issues which resulted in death. Additionally, 11 have contracted COVID-19. 4 cases [are] considered serious,” adds Moonias. He says 1 case is in critical condition at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Services Centre.

Chief Moonias and Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa, who also serves as the NDP’s Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation Critic, have asked Indigenous Services Canada for emergency funding to move Neskantaga members back home to isolate.

“The COVID outbreak in Thunder Bay is threatening the people of Neskantaga and the region.  The Ford government needs to send resources now to stop any further spread into Neskantaga, and among community members in Thunder Bay,” said Mamakwa.

Moonias notes after Ornge’s vaccination drive in his community, 88 percent of eligible in-community members received the first of the two doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

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