First Nation, Metis, Inuit leaders concerned about Indigenous COVID-19 outbreaks

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OTTAWA — 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 tells a House of Commons committee that provinces and jurisdictions should be cautious about lifting pandemic restrictions, given that the number of COVID-19 cases in First Nations has increased.

While the virus has been slower to reach First Nations, Bellegarde says the number of cases has been rising daily and Indigenous communities need more money then the federal government is offering.

Bellegarde also raised concern that decisions being made about First Nations’ allocations of resources to deal with the crisis are being made without input from Indigenous leaders.

Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, says he is thankful that northern territories have been spared large outbreaks so far, but noted that pandemic restrictions are having major economic impacts on the already challenged Inuit territories and he also called for greater testing capacity.

Metis National Council vice president David Chartrand says his people are falling through jurisdictional cracks, which he believes has contributed to a sharp rise in COVID-19 outbreaks in Metis communities in western Canada.

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