Bearskin Lake First Nation is an Oji-Cree First Nation reserve in Kenora District, Ontario, Canada, located 425 kilometres north of Sioux Lookout. It’s on-reserve population is 461 (retrieved from Wikipedia). Currently, they are undergoing a severe Covid crisis, with over half their population infected. With the aid of social media, along with devoted family and friends, Tania Cameron is a community organizer in her own time. Her daily life is spent juggling 2 jobs and one of them being “Acting CEO’ at Wiigwas Elder and Senior Care Home in Kenora (first ever female). She started her own campaign to provide food, HEPA filters and much needed supplies while the government remained silent to their pleas for help. This is her story:
I was watching Bearskin Lake social media posts since Boxing Day and saw that they had a couple of cases of COVID in their community, and the case count just exploded. By 38 positive cases confirmed, it was apparent that they were in a full-fledged outbreak. Sol Mamakwa, MPP for Kiiwetinoong, provided updates as he received them from the Bearskin Lake leadership. I felt helpless as I read posts by community members and pandemic team members that the community was overwhelmed. Their usual workers were now isolating at home which meant they had limited support with half the community households in isolation. I contacted Sol and asked if he could get permission from Chief Kamenawatamin for me to start collecting funds to send groceries to the community. Once I got permission, I reached out to Fresh Market Foods in Sioux Lookout to see if I can partner with them once again to support Bearskin Lake. Fresh Market Foods receives a federal subsidy that helps cover freight to fly groceries to the fly-in communities. Charlene Ogden, the Order Desk Manager, immediately said “yes”. So on the morning of New Years Eve, I launched the call for donations. I hoped to raise $4000-$5000. By that night, I raised just over $11,0000. Today, I’m at $22,773 total.
On January 5, the first shipment of groceries and supplies arrived in the community. I saw posts and photos of the arrival in Bearskin.
I am working on shopping and shipping for supplies using a list given to me by the people of Bearskin Lake. I’m still working on the logistics for that.
Since the start of the pandemic, I have been able to coordinate over $200K in goods to communities (4 towns and over 30 First Nations) which includes 185,000 lbs of potatoes (which also helped 3 Manitoba farms), countless menstrual products, sports equipment and clothing and now groceries to Bearskin Lake. All this could not be done without the generous support by friends, family and people I have met on social media. I post every donation and receipt for all the projects I did.
Tania Cameron Kenora, ON
If you’d like to help Tania with her campaign, you can email funds to:
Donate by EMT to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or by PayPal to: http://paypal.me/taniacameron807