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Canada Manitoba First Nations want military help with coronavirus preparations

20:49  31 march  2020
20:49  31 march  2020 Source:   globalnews.ca

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Some Manitoba First Nations are asking for military help to prepare for the coronavirus pandemic.

Global News has confirmed a report first published by CBC News on Tuesday morning that two First Nations communities in Manitoba — the Cross Lake Band of Indians and Norway House Cree Nation — sent their requests to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in the form of a letter.

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However, that's not the normal route for making such asks.

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A temporary military travel ban put in place to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus only applies to official permanent change of station (PCS) and temporary duty assignment (TDY) travel, according to a Defense Department fact sheet issued late Friday.

Communities requesting military help generally need to go through their provincial governments, so it's unclear at this point what will happen next and how those requests will be addressed.

Global News has reached out to Sajjan's office for their reaction.

The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe has infected 801,400 people so far and killed 38,743.

In Canada, there are 7,424 confirmed cases and 89 deaths as of Tuesday morning.

But the lack of doctors, poverty, remoteness and close quarters in many Indigenous communities have been raised by parliamentarians as factors that make those communities especially vulnerable.

READ MORE: Canadian military on war footing in case of COVID-19 crisis call

Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance has said the military is prepared to respond to any requests for help from the provinces.

That has included paring back overseas duties, recalling members from postings and vacation abroad, and opening the door to former members who want to return to help with the pandemic response.

More to come.

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