Military Deployment in Bearskin Lake First Nation

News Release from Bearskin Lake First Nation

Chief Kamenawatamin would like to clarify the deployment of military personnel to the community of Bearskin Lake First Nation. While he had received information from Canadian officials that 7 individuals were to be deployed, as of January 12th, 2022, only 3 Canadian Rangers had arrived in the community. Chief Kamenawatamin was further advised that 4 additional Rangers would be deployed from personnel living in the community, yet two of these individuals remain unconfirmed. Given the widespread outbreak in the community, it is possible that these 2 individuals remain in isolation. As of January 12th, 5 Canadian Rangers have been deployed to Bearskin Lake First Nation.

“We are disappointed with Canada’s response”, said Chief Kamenawatamin. “Our community was anxiously waiting for help, and we were comforted by the thought that Canada would step in to provide us with much needed physical and moral support. In the end, however, this help has been minimal.”

Chief Kamenawatamin and his council have now turned their attention to addressing the physical healing and mental health needs of his community members. “I must now focus my energies and attention on the mental health crisis this situation has created and work towards the positive healing of my community.”

This situation and the promises made by Canada to Bearskin Lake First Nation only serve as another example of a long history of dishonesty and neglect from Canadian governments. While reconciliation with Indigenous people has been stated as this government’s priority, it is not yet something Indigenous people are experiencing on the ground.

Bearskin Lake First Nation is located 425 kilometres north of Sioux Lookout on Lake Michikan. It is accessible by air throughout the year, and during the winter months, by ice road. In 1929 they signed Treaty 9 with Ontario and Canada which assured them economic and educational opportunity and Canadian standards of health care and services.

For more information contact: Anne Chabot Windigo First Nations Council c. 416 579 2940
achabot@windigo.on.ca