Outrage in Canada as the government sends native communities not medicine but bodybags in preparation for the upcoming winter and round two of swine flu
That’s right, the outrage du jour in
The native reserves have already had a pretty desperate brush with the first round of swine flu, with quite a number being flown to big city hospitals where ventilators were available. That’s what happens in poor communities with bad health to begin with, and where people are living in very close quarters in unhealthy homes.
Now as Swine Flu II lurks with the approach of winter, First Nations communities asked for assistance with medicine, hand sanitizers, gloves and masks which are touted as first line defense. In the same shipments to reserves in
What, asked tribal chiefs, does the government know that the First Nations peoples don’t? They packed up the bags and sent them back to
It was not a head in the sand response but a natural reaction of a callous, offensive and obscene action, for which of course the government is desperately sorry.
Aboriginal communities – and
In Parliament the MP for Labrador Todd Russell – himself a Métis – likened the delivery to one in his own electorate nearly a hundred years ago, in which the government of the day responded to an influenza outbreak by sending planks of wood from which to fashion coffins.
The parallel with this latest grim delivery was unmistakable, he said, and it whacked any confidence First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities can have in the government to take care of their health.
The government was asked to consider how doctors and nurses in these communities felt when they opened their much awaited medicines to find body bags. Unless the government didn’t get it, it was pointed out that body bags won’t actually stop the spread of H1N1 and the only message they send is the government is more focused on burying the victims than stopping the virus. Well in some communities, that is.
But has there been a complete apology? Heck no, there’s an inquiry underway. What has been tendered is a sort of apology qualified by statements about how unfortunate it was that the body bags were seen as being part of the anti-H1N1 supplies. Apparently it was “regrettable” the bags showed up with the kits.
In the meantime the insult has ripped through the remote native communities as they ask whether
And there’s the cultural dimension in all of this in terms of the way many First Nations peoples prepare for death. One of their chiefs took to the airwaves making it plain to the rest of the country that they certainly do not invite death in. Preparing for death by stocking body bags is to do just that.
Oh, and before you start feeling sorry for Health Canada, it is important to point out that government agency was very recently copping flak for being concerned about sending hand sanitizers to the native communities at all, for fear the residents would consume the alcohol based gel!
How long ago were anthrax and smallpox laced blankets considered a fair trade for land?