Manitoba First Nations outraged over H1N1 body-bag shipments
2009-09-17 0:00

By Mia Rabson | OttawaCitizen.com


First Nations (Native American) chiefs in northern Manitoba, Canada, say Health Canada sent an ominous message to their reserves this week when dozens of body bags were included in shipments of medical supplies for H1N1 influenza.

At least four reserves in Manitoba reported they received body bags in shipments from Health Canada on Tuesday. The shipments also included hand sanitizer and face masks.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said Wednesday she's ordered an investigation into the "disturbing" reports of body-bag shipments to First Nations communities hit hard by the H1N1 flu.

"This says to me they've given up," said Garden Hill Chief David Harper.

Harper said Wasagamack First Nation counted at least 30 body bags in a shipment of supplies sent to the nursing station. God's River received 20 of them. Garden Hill and St. Theresa Point also had body bags in their supply shipments, but hadn't counted them.

The communities are about 600 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

"This is an ominous sign that the government is predicting a grim outcome," said Chief David McDougall of St. Theresa Point First Nation.

Normally, Harper said, the RCMP on the reserves get a few body bags, but the nursing station does not. He said the workers who unpacked the boxes were shocked when they saw the bags.

"It's very insensitive," said Harper. "It's like sending body bags to soldiers in Afghanistan."

Harper said he contacted Aglukkaq's office Wednesday morning, but had heard nothing from her by late afternoon.

Aglukkaq said she learned about the body bags in a conference call with First Nations leaders Wednesday morning.

"I have ordered my deputy minister to conduct a thorough and immediate inquiry into the situation, and I will continue to work with First Nations, provinces and territories to ensure that all Canadians are informed and protected against H1N1," she said.

She said she did not know anything about the body-bag shipment, including whether or not Health Canada was actually behind it.

"Once I have more information, I can speak to that," she said. "Right now, I'm asking the same questions you are."

The federal government, which is responsible for health care on First Nations, has faced sustained criticism over its response to flu outbreaks on the reserves this spring.

Calling a swine-flu outbreak in their communities a "pending atrocity," three chiefs from northern Manitoba travelled to Ottawa in June to demand a meeting with the federal health and Indian affairs ministers.

The chiefs said their fly-in communities were more vulnerable to an outbreak, partly because many overcrowded houses do not have access to running water.

With at least 100 people diagnosed with flu this spring across seven northern communities, the chiefs said they were also facing a shortage of medical personnel and supplies, including hand sanitizers.

"It really makes me wonder if health officials know something we don't," said Harper. "Don't send us body bags. Help us organize. Send us medicine."

Chief Jerry Knott added: "Is the shipment of the body bags part of Canada's preparedness plan for all Canadians? Is the body bags a statement from Canada that we as First Nations are on our own?"

Manitoba MP and NDP health critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis called the shipment "the ultimate expression of incompetence."

"This is a government that won't send flu kits to these reserves, but they send body bags, instead," she said. "We find this absolutely abhorrent."

Liberal aboriginal affairs critic Todd Russell said in June that Garden Hill and St. Theresa Point waited weeks for Health Canada to debate what type of hand sanitizer to send. Over the summer, Health Canada denied the reserves financial assistance to send flu kits for residents on reserve, which would have included preventive and treatment options such as face masks and Tylenol.

"Now in September, after First Nations have been pleading with the government to put plans in place, day after day, week after week, month after month, what is Minister Aglukkaq's response for preventiveness when it comes to H1N1?" said Russell. "What is the Health Department's response? To send body bags into First Nations communities. It is unacceptable. It is unbelievable that that is the response."

Nationally, First Nations patients account for 17 per cent of the hospitalized cases of H1N1, 15.2 per cent of patients who ended up in intensive care, and 11.3 per cent of the deaths.

Article from: OttawaCitizen.com



Related Articles
H1N1 Swine Flu Increases Business of Manufacturing Body Bags
Deaths Associated with H1N1 flu virus in Canada
Silent Weapon: Smallpox and Biological Warfare
First Nations - Wiki
Bird-Swine Flu Vaccine: Voluntary or Mandatory?
H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic: Iowa Contemplates "Forced Confinement" in a "Quarantine Facility"
Swine Flu Threats: Police May Quarantine You
Walgreens Swine Flu Propaganda (img)
Fear, Intimidation & Media Disinformation: U.K Government is Planning Mass Graves in Case of H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic


Latest News from our Front Page

Pro-Israel bias: BBC admits editorial breach in interview with Israeli defense chief
2015-05-23 7:58
The BBC has reached a “provisional finding” to uphold complaints made by Palestinian activists that the broadcaster breached its editorial guidelines in a “soft” interview with the Israeli defense minister. Complaints focused on BBC journalist Sarah Montague’s alleged failure to challenge controversial claims made by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. Journalist Amena Saleem, who works with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), wrote ...
41% of Americans Support Criminalizing "Hate Speech"
2015-05-23 7:31
The following are from a recent poll about what some are calling on for "hate speech" 1. Support for Hate Crimes Legislation Do you support or oppose the federal law that requires increased penalties for hate crimes committed on the basis of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or gender of any person? 2. Support for Expanding Hate Crimes Do ...
FBI Admits No Major Cases Cracked with Patriot Act Snooping Powers
2015-05-23 7:36
FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating. Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk ...
Sweetener Stevia Was Once Hailed As An Anti-Fertility Agent for Population Reduction
2015-05-23 7:13
Maybe it's not so sweet now... If you've thought stevia, the natural alternative to sugar and artificial sweetners with aspartame, et al., is too good to be true, there may be a catch. Check out this textbook written in 1970 by Paul and Anne Ehrlich, the precursor to the textbook Ecoscience they wrote with Obama Science Czar John P. Holdren ...
TPP Aproved: Senate Republicans Give Obama New Powers - Details Remain 'Classified'
2015-05-23 6:43
President Obama won a big victory for his trade agenda Friday with the Senate’s approval of fast-track legislation that could make it easier for him to complete a wide-ranging trade deal that would include 11 Pacific Rim nations. A coalition of 48 Senate Republicans and 14 Democrats voted for Trade Promotion Authority late Friday, sending the legislation to a difficult fight ...
More News »