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This article was published 17/4/2020 (313 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Manitoba Metis Federation will soon have camps ready in the event the pandemic "blows up in our villages," president David Chartrand said Thursday.
In mid-March, the federation announced it would transform two construction camps into two 48-bed health facilities that could be used for emergency quarantine during the COVID-19 outbreak. Chartrand said the federation added a camp to the equation, and it might add another.
The idea is to be ready to act if large numbers of people are affected, and Chartrand said the federation cabinet has been preparing for more than three months to utilize tools it already has.
"We’ve been fortunate in our past investments and with our construction company," he said, via livestream.
The federation and Metis N4 Construction originally bought the camps for construction projects.
"It’s set up for a live-in situation," Chartrand said.
"I encourage you to be comfortable with the idea that the Metis government’s already got your back."
But Chartrand also repeated what he said back in March:
"If the Metis do not need this, if the pandemic does not, knock on wood, ever hit our villages, this can be used for other Manitobans."
Energy and Infrastructure Minister Jack Park hosted a video tour of a double camp, located between Treherne and St. Claude and approximately an hour and a half southeast of Brandon.
"We know this COVID virus is here in Manitoba and we know it hasn’t reached its peak, yet," Park said about the need to prepare for quarantine in numbers.
"(The camp) has 96 rooms in total."
The camp will be fully electrified, with an exercise room, a fully stocked kitchen, with dry goods and an industrial-sized cooler and freezer, individual bedrooms for isolation, washroom facilities, TVs and internet access, and laundry facilities.
It’s important to have such a facility so people can isolate, said chief cook and camp manager Mike Moseychuck.
"If you don’t have the symptoms, you don’t have to stay at home with the possibility of infecting anybody in your household or your neighbourhood," he said. "You come in and you do what you have to do. And, hopefully, people are not going to develop the symptoms, and go home."
Tenants at the camp who are isolating or quarantined will be served meals at their rooms.
A fence will be built around the camp for security purposes.
"If the pandemic explodes and we find ourselves with 90 people in that particular facility, we want to make sure there’s safety for those surrounding communities who might fear this could linger into their houses and area," Chartrand said. "We want to show them that won’t be the case. We want to put all precautions in place."
Chartrand thanked the nearby Municipality of Norfolk Treherne for its partnership in the federation‘s efforts, as well as the landowner who agreed to have the camps on his land.
"We’re well prepared and well on our way," said Park.
The federation is preparing another camp at Winnipegosis, approximately 225 kilometres north of Brandon.
» Michele LeTourneau covers Indigenous matters for The Brandon Sun under the Local Journalism Initiative, a federally funded program that supports the creation of original civic journalism.