Canada’s Indigenous leaders say more help is needed as COVID-19 outbreaks rise

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First Nations, Inuit and Metis leaders are raising concern about a growing number of outbreaks of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities and say it’s getting harder to find the money and supplies to deal with them.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations told a House of Commons committee Friday that provinces and jurisdictions should be cautious about lifting pandemic restrictions, given that the number of COVID-19 cases in First Nations has increased.

As of May 7, there were 164 confirmed cases on First Nations reserves.

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“While the virus has been slower to reach First Nations, the number of cases is rising daily,” Bellegarde said.

“I fear there are already more cases among our people than we currently know.”

Bellegarde pointed to a number of systemic issues that make Indigenous populations more vulnerable to contracting the virus, including overcrowded housing, inadequate health services in many communities, food insecurity, lack of clean water and the remoteness of northern, fly-in communities.

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“Canada’s response must take all of these unique factors into account,” Bellegarde said.

3:06Coronavirus outbreak: First Nations communities see increase in COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus outbreak: First Nations communities see increase in COVID-19 cases

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He noted that Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller had appeared before the same committee last week,

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