Dozens more Kashechewan children suffering with skin lesions to be evacuated
Former chief Derek Stephen says his infant niece survived open heart surgery in Ottawa just two months ago
by CBC News, March 21, 2016
Three children have been evacuated from Kashechewan First Nation, including a five-month old recovering from open-heart surgery, to get badly-needed medical help.
A total of 16 children with acute cases of skin infection have been identified for immediate help, said Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus.
“This is the face of the medical crisis hitting Treaty 9,” he said in a Twitter post on Friday, after former Kashechewan chief Derek Stephen posted unsettling pictures of his infant niece covered in lesions.
Stephen said his niece has been given antibiotics for a lung and skin infection.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, he said she has appointments booked for today to see a skin specialist and pediatric doctor.
The baby was transported by medivac from the community to receive treatment, reportedly in Timmins.
Stephen suggested the infant’s angry rash might be linked to the community’s water supply.
The baby had surgery two months ago in Ottawa to fix some defective valves in her heart, he said. Since she’s been home in Kashechewan, she developed the skin condition.
He also posted pictures of other children in the community that have angry-looking skin conditions as well.
Angus said no one really knows what is causing the alarming skin conditions.
With three children already evacuated, 13 more are left to go, but he told CBC News he wasn’t certain where they would be treated.
A medical team from the hospital in Moose Factory will go to Kashechewan on Tuesday, because other children may be affected, Angus said.
“These communities are always living in a precarious situation and the effects are being felt in the children and it’s really, really heart-breaking,” he said.
Angus is now looking ahead to tomorrow’s federal budget with the hope the government will provide First Nations with some community assistance.
“Is the government going to commit to the water plan — not just to end the boil water advisories to make water that you can bathe your children in without worrying about getting rashes,” he said.
“Are we going to deal with the infrastructure crisis where so many houses are full of black mould and are we going to end the systemic racial discrimination that’s been found by the human rights tribunal, by Health Canada, Indian Affairs and Justice, against children?”
It’s been more than a month since Nishnawbe Aski Nation declared a health emergency, saying people living in remote First Nations in northern Ontario are dying “needlessly” because they don’t have access to basic health care.