The news focuses on community and industry responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The articles highlight the vulnerabilities faced by Northern communities and the barriers to practicing the public health recommendations for COVID-19 given the housing shortage and boil water advisories in many communities. The resilience is also highlighted, exemplified by Chief Moonias saying, “preparing for emergencies comes naturally to people in his community, which has been under a boil water advisory for around 25 years.”
The Northern Ontario business article provides an overview of what mining and exploration projects are continuing to operate and which have been put on hold due to the pandemic. While some operations have shut down, many are continuing. These announcements are coming at a time when land defenders and water protectors across Turtle Island have been speaking out against the ongoing operation of extractive industries in spite of public health recommendations and other widespread shutdowns, claiming that industry would rather risk people’s health and lives than lose profit.
March 11, 2020 (CBC):
COVID-19 could be ‘devastating’ for First Nations, says Matawa First Nations CEO
Overcrowded housing could make self-isolation impossible, says Neskantaga chief
“Ashton said the government’s failure to deal with issues around housing, infrastructure and water quality have allowed conditions that increase the threat of a virus to persist.”
Read more here…
March 19, 2020 (Wawatay News):
Neskantaga announces precautionary measures, Constance Lake a state of emergency
Neskantaga and Constance Lake recently released statements on measures for the safety and wellbeing of citizens due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Neskantaga announced precautionary measures on March 16 and Constance Lake announced a state of emergency on March 17.
March 23, 2020 (CBC):
Neskantaga First Nation finalizes pandemic plan in face of COVID-19 threat
Plan calls for screening people entering the community at the airport and on the winter roads
The chief of Neskantaga First Nation says his community now has a pandemic plan to guide its response to COVID-19.
The plan calls for using buildings such as the school and community centre to isolate people who can’t be near others, Chris Moonias said.
March 27, 2020 (Northern Ontario Business):
Mining companies assess worker, community safety in deciding to continue or suspend projects
Coronavirus fears force some exploration juniors to break camp, while mine developers proceed cautiously
“The coronavirus’ rapid spread across Canada has junior mining executives and mine developers in Northern Ontario weighing the safety and exposure of their workers in deciding whether to proceed or temporarily lock down operations until conditions improve.”