'They're afraid to come out': Kashechewan chief says residents are worried about soaring COVID-19 case numbers
TIMMINS -- Kashechewan, a First Nation community of 1,800 people in Ontario's far north, is getting hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a telephone interview, Chief Leo Friday told CTV News that people are scared.
"Everybody here seems to be worried … they're afraid to come out," Friday said.
Marc Miller, Canada's minister of Indigenous services, said the majority of the cases are either children under age 12 who are not eligible for a vaccine, or people under age 18 who've either had only one vaccine dose or none.
Miller also said of the almost 900 active cases on First Nation territories across the country, Kashechewan has 232 of them.
"The cases in Kashechewan form roughly a quarter of the active cases in Canada," he said.
Miller said the government is helping with funding for food and supplies, and to build isolation units for people who are ill and residing with large families. He also said more nurses and paramedics have been sent to help.
"We remain committed to working with and supporting Chief Friday and Kashechewan in this difficult time and we thank all those working on the ground tirelessly to support the community," Miller said.
But Friday said he doesn't think the isolation units will be ready until sometime next week.
"We just (got) approval on Sunday to go ahead, but we don’t even have the money yet to hire people and those people that we asked for to come in to erect these units -- the Canadian armed Forces -- I don’t think they’re here yet," Friday said.
Miller said the Moderna vaccine that was given to elders and other adults earlier this year has created a firewall, but he said the situation in Kashechewan remains alarming.