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OTTAWA, Sept. 17 – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo issued the following statement today regarding the H1N1 situation in First Nations communities:
“The Assembly of First Nations has raised the issue of body bags being shipped to northern First Nations communities in Manitoba with the Federal Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq. The body bags were shipped without explanation and, seemingly, as part of the federal pandemic preparedness plan.
The Minister’s call for an immediate investigation into this matter, and the promise to make the results public is a responsible first step. However, we would encourage the Minister to meet immediately with regional leaders in Manitoba to address the concerns that have been raised as a result of this incident, offer a full explanation and, equally important, discuss with them what needs to be done to ensure First Nations are fully prepared for a potential pandemic.
This incident demonstrates the urgent need to ensure pandemic planning is developed in partnership with First Nations so that First Nations health officials are directly engaged in allocation and distribution of all resources and all jurisdictions understand their respective roles and responsibilities. I am urging the responsible Federal Ministers to work with First Nations leadership nationally, regionally and locally to ensure effective communication, clear planning and full engagement and attention on this matter. I am hopeful we may be ready to announce a new approach very soon. But in the meantime, First Nations that need action now should get action now.
A number of communities across Canada, including my home community of Ahousaht, are affected or expect to be affected by H1N1 this Fall. My home community has been well-prepared, has a well-executed pandemic plan and is handling the outbreak well with the resources at hand. However, there is an immediate need to ensure all First Nations across Canada have the information, tools and human resources needed.”
National Chief Shawn Atleo
Assembly of First Nations
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
For further information: Media inquiries should be directed to media[at]afn.ca; Chantelle Krish at (778) 990-9544 or Robert Simpson, (778) 991-1407
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