North

Ebola fears led First Nation to opt out of Canada World Youth

A young woman from Inuvik, N.W.T., has had a change of plans for her next stint with Canada World Youth after elders on the Wikwemikong Indian Reserve near Sudbury, Ont. expressed fears about Ebola.
Violet Kimiksana, middle, is volunteering in Tanzania with Canada World Youth. She had to change plans for her next stint after the chief of the Wikwemikong Indian Reserve expressed fears about Ebola. (Facebook)

A young woman from Inuvik, N.W.T., has had a change of plans for her next stint with Canada World Youth after elders on the Wikwemikong Indian Reserve near Sudbury, Ont. expressed fears about Ebola.

Tanzania is in East Africa, thousands of kilometres from the West African nations where Ebola has been spreading. (Wikimedia Commons)
Violet Kimiksana is working in Tanzania, a country on Africa’s east coast, several thousand kilometres away from the nearest case of Ebola.

Part of Kimiksana's service required her to volunteer in Africa and then in a Canadian aboriginal community.

One of the options for volunteering was with the Wikwemikong reserve on Manitoulin Island.

Wikwemikong Chief Duke Peltier says his community was looking at whether to participate in the Canada World Youth program last June.

That was right around the time, he says, that news reports were saying Ebola was very contagious and spreading fast.

Peltier says some elders came to the council and indicated they were fearful, so council voted to not take part in the program.

Eric Lefebvre, with Canada World Youth, is understanding.

“It's all over the news. It's all over the media. It creates a fear,” Lefebvre says.

Alice Kimiksana, Violet's mother, says her daughter was upset about the change.

“She was a bit upset about it when I talked to her and she said she had to change communities,” she says. “I was kind of upset about it too.”

​Kimiksana will instead volunteer with another First Nations community when she returns to Canada later this month.

Her mother says the fears that her daughter might infect others are exaggerated.

She plans to welcome her daughter back with open arms when she returns home in three months.

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