Kenora Rainy-River MPP and Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford says northwestern Ontario’s First Nation communities have done an excellent job at controlling the spread of COVID-19.

“Since the onset of this, our Indigenous communities have shown real leadership. The coronavirus has proven to be devastating for people with compromised health systems. Indigenous communities and leadership have taken this really seriously, even as they’re facing these additional threats.”

Many local community leaders have issued new public health measures to help safeguard the vulnerable and those at-risk in their communities, including band councils at Wauzhushk Onigum, Dalles and Wabaseemoong.

As it stands, last weekend’s positive case of COVID-19 in Wabaseemoong Independent Nation brought the region’s total to 27 confirmed cases of the virus, and 22 of those cases are considered resolved. Over 6,700 tests have been taken in the region.

“The numbers have been extraordinarily low in our area. Even after our outbreak in Wabaseemoong, full credit to Chief Waylon Scott. A great guy and a high profile Indigenous leader. He took charge, worked with the Northwestern Health Unit, and their aggressive contact tracing brought everything under control.”

“That just shows you how northwestern Ontario people, Indigenous or not, have taken this seriously, have played by the rules and now we’re into phase 2, despite some of these new positives. We have the confidence that we will do the right things and take the right actions, to start to move forward again.”

Rickford adds that while working as a member of Ontario’s emergency preparedness committee as well as the Indigenous Affairs minister, he’s spent a considerable amount of time meeting with Ontario Chiefs, Grand Chiefs, and Indigenous leadership across the province throughout the pandemic.

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