Photo: Jacques Boissinot Archives The canadian Press
The minister responsible for aboriginal Affairs, Sylvie D’amours
Nearly a hundred researchers and canadian doctors in aboriginal health will sign on Thursday an open letter in which they urge governments to “provide food support and medical care” to the country’s indigenous peoples.
“We need to recognize that there is still systemic racism within canadian society that redone quickly surface in such events,” they write.
They recall in particular that the two Innu of Uashat mak Mani-utenam have been refused tests for the detection of the COVID-19 for the hospital in Sept-Îles and Port-Cartier, under the pretext that there was no case on the North Shore. One of these people is later found intubated and sedated, while the other has finally received a positive diagnosis, according to a news report from Radio-Canada.
The 89 signatories of the letter also write that the government ” [must] be aware of the significant food insecurity and the vulnerability of indigenous communities to infectious diseases “.
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In an interview to the Duty at the end of march, the minister responsible for aboriginal Affairs, Sylvie D’amours, was rather said to see ” an advantage [of the fact] to remain in a community [aboriginal], in the sense that we control the input and output “. She also said that the good organization of the communities could put them in an enviable position compared to ” a big city like Montreal.”
The federal minister of Aboriginal Services, Marc Miller, instead, says to expect that the impact of the COVID-19 be “disproportionate” in aboriginal communities.
Living conditions of ” extreme “
The signatories of the open letter argue about the words that go in the same direction. “While public health authorities recommend that people stay at home, it should be noted that indigenous peoples live in some of the housing conditions in the most extreme in the country,” they write.
One in five Aboriginal people lived in housing that is overcrowded, and the same proportion live in housing in need of major repairs, remind the doctors and researchers.
“The prevalence of overcrowding and housing that is poorly maintained is even higher in inuit communities and First Nations are isolated, where the average occupancy is six persons per house “, note they.
Still : the crisis of the COVID-19 “[put] at risk the communities ‘ access to healthy food is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system “, are of concern to the signatories. Many remote communities must rely on the transport — by land or by air — food from major urban centres. But ” the current restrictions on travel will limit likely to be significantly their access to food market imported fresh and nutritious “, it is written in the letter.
The prevalence of food insecurity is “four times higher than the canadian national average” in aboriginal communities, also point to the researchers. Malnutrition and exposure to environmental contaminants noticed in several communities in the country also have ” important implications for the effectiveness of the immune response “.
If they welcome the help of $ 100 million announced by Ottawa to meet the food needs of the most vulnerable, including Aboriginal people, the signatories ask, however, that “logistical support” to be provided ” to ensure a regular supply of good quality food and traditional food for aboriginal communities “.