North

Cree Nation mourns 1st known Cree death from COVID-19

“It was our deepest hope that our Cree Nation would be spared the worst consequences of this virus. Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts, we have lost a dear elder,” said Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum. 

Mistissini elder Emma Trapper was in a rehabilitation centre in Montreal

Emma Trapper, an elder from the Cree community of Mistissini in northern Quebec, is the first known death of a Cree person from COVID-19. (Abel Bosum/Facebook)

Emma Trapper, an elder from the community of Mistissini in northern Quebec, is the first known Cree person to die from COVID-19 from the region. 

Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum shared the news on Facebook Tuesday morning. Trapper was 76, according to the Mistissini community Facebook page.

"It is with the most profound sadness that I must announce that the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee has suffered its first loss due to the current COVID-19 [illness]," wrote Bosum in his Facebook post, using the name of the traditional territory of the Cree. 

Bosum went on to say that all of the Cree Nation mourns with her family. 

"It was our deepest hope that our Cree Nation would be spared the worst consequences of this virus. Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts, we have lost a dear elder," wrote Bosum. 

We have lost a dear elder.- Abel Bosum, Cree Nation grand chief

"We can now only join the family in mourning her passing." 

Trapper was being treated in a rehabilitation centre in Montreal, according to Faisca Richer, director of public health for the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay (CBHSSJB). 

Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum said the COVID-19 situation in northern Quebec, where most Cree people live, is stable. (Cree Nation Government/Facebook)

"She had been hospitalized for many months ... since before the COVID-19," said Richer. 

"Her condition gradually deteriorated and she was transferred to a designated [COVID-19] centre in Montreal, where she unfortunately passed away early Monday morning," said Richer. 

Long-term care facilities (CHSLDs) in Montreal are a particular hotspot for COVID-19 cases. 

Richer said the CBHSSJB is aware of seven other Cree patients in Montreal, many of them in long-term care or rehabilitation centres, who have tested positive for COVID-19. 

But she also said that because of the way the cases are recorded administratively there might be others that they don't know about in Montreal and in other larger centres such as Chibougamau and Val d'Or.

COVID-19 situation stable in Cree communities

Richer added that the COVID-19 situation in northern Quebec, where most Cree people live, is stable. There were two more positive tests announced Tuesday in the Cree communities, bringing the total to 10. 

She said many of those people are experiencing mild symptoms, and four of them have recovered. 

Emma Trapper, left, was being treated in a Montreal rehabilitation centre. (Abel Bosum/Facebook)

"The situation in our region remains stable and we don't have anyone very sick and we don't have any mortality," said Richer.

She said Emma Trapper's death is a reminder of how important it is to improve health care options for people in the North.

Need for better health care in the North

"Some of our residents have to be taken care of in other regions because of the lack of possibility to provide the care they need in the region," said Richer.

"The risks that are associated with that are not benign."

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