A photo from the Twitter feed of Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus. Credit: Charlie Angus.
Via CBC News: No medical emergency among Kashechewan children: Health Canada. Excerpt and then a comment:
Doctors flown into Kashechewan First Nation say they have identified dozens of children with skin conditions but no medical emergencies.
The Cree community of about 1800 is situated on the Albany River near James Bay.
Deputy Chief Hosed Wesley says he was told there were 34 people, including one adult, now identified as having a skin condition at a briefing with doctors this afternoon.
The diagnoses so far in the children aged one to the mid-teens are scabies, mild impetigo and eczema, said Keith Conn, associate deputy minister of Health Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health branch. It's unclear if the kids have a combination of these or one or the other.
Three children are being treated outside the community, he said, because their cases were "exacerbated" by conditions at home. Three other children are being monitored in case they need outside treatment.
"The photos are alarming and disturbing but that doesn't represent the community, according to Dr. Green, [who] saw all the children," Conn said. "They're at various levels of severity and infections. Some are milder than others.
"There is a treatment regime in place," he added.
He noted that, in some cases, when eczema is not treated in a consistent way, it can be exacerbated.
"It can be very unappealing — as in the photos shared on Facebook," Conn said.
"But according to Dr. Green, they're not representative of the individual cases that he's seen thus far."
One of the children that appeared in the photos is being treated in Moose Factory, Ont., and doing well, he said. Another is in Timmins and another in Kingston.
I beg to differ with the medical experts. Kashechewan and countless other aboriginal reserves do indeed have a medical emergency.
Kashechewan residents (I almost wrote inmates) suspect the water, though the authorities say it's OK. But it's not OK in scores of other reserves, some of which have been on boil-water alerts for many years.
Canadian reserves might have been designed to promote infectious diseases. Water supplies are inadequate, housing is overcrowded and full of mould, and sanitation is a joke in very poor taste. Since most rural reserves have little economic base, they depend on the bureaucratic largesse of the federal government.
With little work, bad schools, and no control over their own lives, many aboriginal Canadians look like classic examples of the public-health consequences of a very wide income gap.
Like white North Americans in similar conditions, they self-medicate with alcohol and opioids, abuse their women and children, and die young—often in their teens, by suicide. Under our previous Conservative government, the closest we ever got to an adequate aboriginal housing program was an expanded federal penitentiary system.
While our new Liberal government promises to do more, I remain unpersuaded. For a century and a half, the destruction of Canada's aboriginal peoples has been government policy—not by massacres like Wounded Knee, but by paternalistic, soul-destroying residential schools and criminal neglect. In fact, we have a law here that will put parents in jail for "failing to provide the necessities of life." If it were fully enforced, every Canadian government would end up in prison.