Support from the federal government is helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 in three northern First Nation communities dealing with ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks.

Ottawa approved a request for support to bring in members of the Canadian Rangers to Mishkeegogamang Ojibway Nation and Eabametoong First Nation last week until February 23 and 24, as well as a number of supports for the two communities and Pikangikum First Nation.

When asked to detail what specific supports were provided for each community, a spokesperson for Indigenous Services Canada says supports have included sending 22 healthcare staff directly to the three communities.

ISC is also working closely with the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority in each community, as they and the First Nations’ pandemic teams work to lead testing and case and contact management efforts.

Supplies of personal protective equipment, food, baby supplies, harm reduction kits, medications and cleaning supplies have also been provided, as well as traditional healers, mental health workers and additional funding to support their work.

ISC also approved a community funding request of $696,000 to address the current outbreak in Mishkeegogaming, which will fund additional security measures, food and harvesting work, cultural supports, community workers and administration.

The Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority reports that as of February 17, Eabametoong First Nation is reporting a total of 145 active cases, Mishkeegogamang Ojibway Nation has 103 cases, with 26 cases in Pikangikum First Nation.

Active COVID-19 cases have dropped from February 15’s count in Mishkegoogamang, which had reported 165 active cases – a difference of 62 cases in just two days, as well as Pikangikum. They’ve seen cases drop from 77 down to 26.

Meanwhile, cases in Eabametoong First Nation are still increasing. The community reported a total of 113 active cases on February 15, which has since grown to 145 active cases.

Last weekend, members of Neskantaga First nation stepped up to assist community members in Eabametoong – delivering wood, supplies and traditional food to members who are currently in isolation or locked down. They’ve been under lockdown measures since February 6.

Requests for further information on the situation have been sent to SLFNHA, which haven’t been returned as of writing.

ISC notes all three communities have received various amounts of funding to support their COVID-19 prevention work throughout the pandemic. These have included over $16.5 million to Pikangikum, $9.8 million to Eabametoong and over $6.6 million to Mishkeegogamaing.