Feds to provide $100M to help Canada’s Indigenous people deal with threat of coronavirus

Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya and Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, in 2019. (Marie Rose Blackduck/CKLB)

The federal government has set aside $100 million for Indigenous people to help them deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

That’s according to Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde who met with the Prime Minister Monday.

In terms of immediate action, Bellegarde says he was clear on needs and expectations.

“First and foremost, First Nations require a specific strategy and focus that reflects our unique needs and circumstances,” he said.

Bellegarde adds there are 96 remote fly-in First Nation communities across Canada.

“We need a distinctions-based approach and the Prime Minister agreed. We know that the $100 million may not be adequate based on needs and circumstances,” Bellegarde said. “The Prime Minister stated that amount can be expanded as required.”

Federal officials said First Nations should continue to use normal regional channels to access resources from departments like First Nations and Inuit Health Branches and if there are any issues the federal Minister of Indigenous Service’s office can be contacted directly.

Meanwhile, NWT Premier Caroline Cochrane reportedly says that the 600 thousand dollars the feds will give the territory to fight coronavirus is not enough.

About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.