A 48-year-old woman from Cat Lake First Nation has died more than one month after the remote northwestern Ontario community declared a state of emergency over a housing and health crisis.
Nashie Oombash died from kidney failure Monday, according to NDP MP Charlie Angus.
While Global News did not independently confirm her cause of death, Angus said Oombash had been struggling with several health problems, including pneumonia, that were made worse by the excessive mould growing in her house.
“She’d had repeated bouts of pneumonia and continually weakening conditions, and doctors had wanted her out of the house,” he explained, citing a note provided to her by doctors.
Oombash was medevaced out of the remote community for treatment last month, Angus said, noting that her case was among the most severe he heard about from Cat Lake — but not the only one.
WATCH: Cat Lake officials consider evacuation over mould
“When I was there, they talked to me about this woman because she as so sick she couldn’t come back to the community because every time she would come back in, the mould just exacerbated her sickness to a serious degree,” he said.
The office of Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan said the minister contacted community leaders on Tuesday night to express his condolences following Oombash’s death.
“The Minister expressed his condolences on the recent passing of a community member, and reiterated his commitment to working directly with Cat Lake leadership to support the needs of the people of Cat Lake,” the minister’s office wrote in a statement provided to Global News.
Angus visited the community in January amid the emergency and posted photos online of children suffering from red rashes due to the mould.
The First Nation of about 700 people has cited “profoundly poor conditions of housing” as the cause of a public-health crisis, which has led to invasive bacterial disease, including lung infections.
Global News reached out to Cat Lake officials for comment, but did not hear back by publication.
Angus explained that in the last two weeks alone, three children were taken out of the community for medical treatment. Community members he spoke with are growing increasingly fearful of the living conditions, he said.
“Nashie certainly has everybody in the community very worried, because her conditions were so tied to the house she was in,” Angus said.
Last week, Cat Lake councillor Joyce Cook told reporters that residents are considering evacuating the remote community.
“These homes are not suitable. We’re just going to evacuate, we’re going to leave the community,” she said.
Community members have called on O’Regan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to visit the community for themselves to see the conditions. They’ve also asked for emergency housing.
While O’Regan has said he will consider a visit to the community soon, he has not offered a date or any other details.
In a press release Friday, O’Regan said the federal government has taken action on the crisis and the well-being of residents remains their “top priority.”
“A pediatric respirology medical doctor arrived in the community to begin an independent health assessment and treatment of individuals identified by the community,” the release read. “We will address the results of the assessment as soon as they are available, on an urgent basis.”
WATCH: Cat Lake officials say issue is about mould, not the winter road
Last week, the minister said the federal government will speed up delivery of materials for housing repairs, a seven-unit housing complex, and for new construction.
Ongoing repairs to the local nursing station will also be expedited and completed by March 31.
Along with pushing the federal government for help, Angus said the community is now looking for non-governmental organizations such as Red Cross to help the community.
— With a file from The Canadian Press