The flu is believed to be responsible for the deaths of three people on a northern Manitoba reserve.
Two of the people are adults from Tataskweyak Cree Nation, but the age of the third person who died in the community has not been confirmed.
"The whole community mourns and [is] grieving with the family together. I mean with three [deaths], that’s very difficult," said Duke Beardy, Tataskweyak Cree Nation's chief.
According to Beardy, this is not the first time the community has experienced medical trouble.
"We had no doctor in our community for six months at one time last year," he said. "And that tells you there is a problem."
And the current flu outbreak is not expected to end anytime soon.
“There is another wave coming in and that wave is going to be much more destructive than we are currently facing right now,” said Grand Chief David Harper of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), an organization that represents most First Nations in the province's north.
Autopsy results are expected by the end of the week to confirm the causes of death.
“A lot of it is undetected, so that's why the autopsies are very important to us, so we know exactly the root causes of such deaths,” said Harper.
Meanwhile, nearly 30 other people have been airlifted out of the reserve to hospitals, mostly in Thompson, for treatment.
All community events and school classes have been cancelled in Tataskweyak, located about 700 kilometres north of Winnipeg, northeast of Thompson, Man. to try to stop the spread of the virus.
“We know for a fact that some of the schools, their attendance is down. That’s why some schools have said no school this week,” said Harper.
Five years ago, the remote First Nation was hit hard by an outbreak of H1N1, and Harper said the community is taking every precaution it can dealing with the H3N2 strain this year.
“It’s nearing a crisis, and it could be a crisis if we don’t take it seriously,” said Harper.
Right now, the chief and council are urging residents to immediately seek medical attention if they suspect they have the flu.
They are also encouraging people to get the flu shot, which has been challenging because some follow traditional medicine and refuse to be vaccinated, according to Harper.
MKO is sending information to medical staff on all First Nations in the province to make them aware of the situation, and Harper is set to meet with Health Canada soon to ask for more medical staff and equipment for First Nations fighting the flu.