The Government of Canada continues to make investments so that First Nations, Inuit and Métis have the support they need to keep their communities safe in response to COVID-19.
Today, Gimma Craig Nootchtai of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, Chief Larry Roque of Wahnapitae First Nation, Chief Chad Boissoneau of Mattagami First Nation and Marc G. Serré, Member of Parliament for Nickel Belt and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, on behalf of the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, highlighted community-led solutions undertaken to prepare, prevent and respond to COVID-19 in these communities.
Since March 2020, Indigenous Services Canada has provided Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, Wahnapitae First Nation and Mattagami First Nation a collective total of more than $875,000 through the Indigenous Community Support Fund (ICSF). This funding has been used for a variety of measures, such as supporting Elders and vulnerable community members, improving food security, offering mental health support services, providing emergency response services and more. The ICSF was designed to give Indigenous leadership the flexibility they need to safeguard their communities.
Community-led solutions supported by the Indigenous Community Support Fund
- increased professional health service personnel, including nurses, personal support workers, community outreach workers and community mental health professionals;
- organized a community emergency response team;
- developed a pandemic plan;
- established a food bank for vulnerable community members and families;
- installed a border check point for the purposes of contact tracing and controlling traffic in and out of the community;
- purchased equipment and supplies to set up an isolation centre;
- modified office space to accommodate physical distancing and safe work practices;
- provided educational supports to students;
- acquired masks, sanitizers, gloves, gowns, eye protection, etc.; and
- assisted Elders with technology that keeps them informed of the latest COVID-19 news, programming to help with their physical and mental health, and virtual community events they can participate in.
Wahnapitae First Nation:
- set up a community food bank to reduce potential exposure for on-reserve members;
- established an official emergency response plan that established clear procedures for administration-wide coordination of efforts to address this unique challenge;
- managed and monitored road access to ensure that entry to the community reflects the need to protect public health;
- coordinated COVID-19 testing and vaccination, including transportation for on-reserve members wishing to attend vaccination clinics; and
- supported the enhancement of communications technologies, including laptops for students to allow them to safely study from home, and the acquisition of software to allow the administration to better connect and engage with members online.
Mattagami First Nation:
- purchased and distributed food staples to the community, reducing members’ need to leave the community to shop;
- established a security gate at the First Nation’s entrance to monitor travel and visitors; and
- secured mental health resources to help mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on community members.
Canada has invested approximately $1.1 billion in the ICSF to support First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and organizations prepare, prevent and respond to the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely difficult on our Nation and has caused spiritual, physical, emotional, mental, and financial stress on our community members. The funding assisted our Nation in the development of a framework that helped us address the immediate needs of our members and contributed towards keeping our members safe and healthy. We are appreciative and grateful for the assistance provided. Miigwetch.”
Gimaa Craig Nootchtai
“The challenges posed by COVID-19 have been considerable, which is why Wahnapitae First Nation has been very pleased to be able to offer much-needed support to members on and off reserve through the Indigenous Community Support Fund. This has helped us to protect and provide for our members in their time of need through projects developed by and for our people. These have been difficult times for everyone, so miigwech to the Government of Canada for working with Wahnapitae First Nation to enable these crucial community-led solutions.”
Chief Larry Roque
Wahnapitae First Nation
“The Indigenous Community Support Fund has provided relief by providing financial resources that allowed us to focus our energy on preventing COVID-19 from harming our community. Having the financial support to implement protective and preventative infrastructure safeguards our most vulnerable members, our Elders and our Children.”
Chief Chad Boissoneau
Mattagami First Nation
“We know that the best solutions are those that are community-led and driven, which is why the Government of Canada created the Indigenous Community Support Fund. This fund gives leadership the flexibility to use the funding in ways most suitable for their community. I commend the leadership of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, Wahnapitae and Mattagami First Nations for their innovative ideas to meet the needs of their communities during COVID-19. We will continue to support Indigenous communities and we will get through the pandemic together.”
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
“We must all do our part to help keep ourselves, our loved ones and our communities safe. The Indigenous Community Support Fund has helped our communities do just that. I will continue to work closely with Nickel Belt – Greater Sudbury Indigenous communities and help them advance their own personal priorities as we move through this pandemic.”
Marc G. Serré
Member of Parliament for Nickel Belt and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources
Atikameksheng Anishnawbek is located west of Sudbury, Ontario, at the east end of Whitefish Lake and west of Stuart Lake.
Wahnapitae First Nation is located 29 kilometres northwest of Sudbury, Ontario.
Mattagami First Nation is located approximately 70 kilometres south of Timmins, Ontario.