A provision of masks, gloves, and other critical supplies is a lifeline against the spread of COVID-19 for remote First Nations in the North.
When his First Nations community in northern Manitoba learned about COVID-19, Arnold Flett joined a local committee to help protect the remote area against the deadly virus circling the globe.
The former chief of Garden Hill First Nation said one of the committee’s first tasks was to acquire protective gloves and masks for medical staff, police, firefighters, social workers, and other frontline workers.
But when committee members began contacting potential suppliers for the protective items they urgently needed, nothing was available, or it was well beyond what the community could afford.
“We were quoted $12,000 for a few dozen masks and gloves,” Flett said. “We couldn’t seem to find anything in the North. For our people’s safety, we needed to do something. We were desperate.”
“At just the right time”
Donors like you answered the call. Through your support, teams at our Canadian Response Center in Calgary, AB rapidly assembled community preparedness kits. In each—masks, gloves, hospital-grade disinfectant, and spray bottles.
Working alongside other ministry organizations, we loaded the supplies onto an aircraft that took off for Garden Hill First Nation and other isolated communities in northern Manitoba and Ontario. More kits headed to First Nations reserves in northwest British Columbia and Yukon Territory.
“They are a gift from God,” said Flett, only hours after the kits arrived. “They came at just the right time.”
The ordained pastor and evangelist, and his wife Nattie, will distribute the supplies to frontline workers in Garden Hill and other surrounding communities.
“They are a gift from God. They came at just the right time.”
Samaritan’s Purse has the privilege of serving alongside churches and ministry partners across the North that, like Flett, have established deep relationships in these areas. They are now using these preparedness kits to bless, protect, and share Christ’s love with the people they serve.
To date, you have helped provide 120 kits full of masks, gloves, and vital cleaning supplies in places like Garden Hill First Nation. You can help provide 100 additional kits urgently needed in other remote communities.
Preparing a treatment center
The isolation of Garden Hill’s 4,000 residents—living 600 kilometers northeast of Winnipeg and accessible only by air or by ice roads in winter—may seem like protection against COVID-19. However, distance has not stopped the sickness from coming to other equally remote communities.
Isolation also means minimal medical facilities, personnel, and equipment are available. So, masks, gloves, disinfectant, self-isolation, social distancing, and other preventative efforts are especially critical in Canada’s North.
Flett noted the disinfectant would be especially useful in Garden Hill’s school. Although it’s one of many local buildings and businesses closed to help guard against COVID-19, the Nation is converting the school into a potential treatment facility for coronavirus patients. “We need to wash down everything there,” Flett said.
Calling on the Lord
Earlier this year, no one in Flett’s community thought COVID-19 would ever make its way to Northern Canada. Yet, confirmed cases are now in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, plus northern areas of several provinces.
In response to growing anxiety in his community, Flett went on the local radio station and invited listeners at 8 p.m. on Wednesday to “step outside your home and call on the Lord” for an end to COVID-19. Many locals did so, and they will continue praying every Wednesday night.
“Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Psalm 50:15