Canadian Armed Forces deployed to Saskatchewan in emergency response to COVID-19

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As cases of COVID-19 continue to surge throughout Saskatchewan, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will be assisting the province in providing emergency humanitarian aid.

Last week, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces responded to a request for assistance by a First Nation community in the province’s far northeast.

Read more: Saskatchewan ICUs, testing capacity see worrying strain: unions

The Canadian Rangers from the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (4 CRPG) will be responsible for assisting the Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation.

For 30 days, they will provide support to the community in the production and distribution of real-life-support such as food, firewood and care packages, says the Department of National Defence.

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They will also help deliver information from community, provincial and federal groups related to personal protective health measures and layered risk mitigation strategies.

Read more: New Saskatchewan COVID-19 restrictions good, but more needed: Saskatoon doctor

After 30 days, the need for assistance will be re-assessed.

“Members of 4 CRPG will support the community of Hatchet Lake until the emergency has abated and the province along with other federal and private sector resources are able to effectively support the community without CAF intervention,” a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence told Global News in an email.

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The Canadian Armed Forces will assist the community alongside provincial and local resources.

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It’s unknown how many members of the military will be deployed. More information will be available in the coming days, says the Department of National Defence.

Global News reached out to Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation several times but did not hear back by publication.

Read more: More northern Saskatchewan First Nations enter lockdowns

As of Sunday, there are 89 active cases of COVID-19 in the far northeast, where Hatchet Lake is, according to the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Community,

Previous Ranger deployments in Saskatchewan during COVID-19

The November mission is the third time the Canadian Armed Forces have assisted Saskatchewan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 11, the 4 CRPG sent three Saskatchewan Ranger patrols to Wollaston Lake, Île-à-la-Crosse, and Fond-du-Lac, to assist local officials in their COVID-19 relief efforts.

“Approximately 40 rangers began working following requests that were submitted to the province’s emergency management office,” said a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence.

Read more: Coronavirus: Canoe Lake Cree First Nation threatens evictions to stop parties

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On April 23, 4 CRPG also conducted similar activities in La Ronge with around 10 Canadian Rangers.

During this time, the government of Saskatchewan announced its re-open plan, but that the north would remain in lockdown. The province had restricted travel to northern communities like La Loche which was a COVID-19 hotspot.

During this time, the rangers provided the following supports in the mentioned communities:

  • Wellness checks;
  • Helping with transportation and distribution of local supplies to community members;
  • Assisting in staffing municipal/community-operated command posts and emergency centre
  • Gathering data and statistics on the current state of the community relative to the COVID-19 relief efforts
  • Supporting COVID-19 awareness programs in local communities
  • Assisting with the set-up of remote clinics
  • Loading, moving, and unloading humanitarian goods
  • Acting as runners to distribute information for command centers
  • Supporting community food security through hunting, gathering, and fishing
  • Assisting in eldercare for persons in isolation such as harvesting, the cutting and delivery of firewood, hauling and refilling water, and delivering medications and groceries.

Read more: Operation LASER: A timeline of the Canadian Forces deployment to seniors homes

The Canadian Ranger Patrols in northern Saskatchewan assisted the communities up until July 17.

Under Operation LASER, the Canadian Rangers have also assisted Quebec and Ontario to care for elders and vulnerable people in long-term care homes. They also have assisted British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii archipelago, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and in Nunavut.

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