Shortly after the onset of COVID-19, Noront decided to close Esker Site to reduce the risk of community spread as two thirds of our workforce are from remote local First Nation communities.
While taking the steps necessary for an orderly closure, our site staff realized we had unused N95 masks and gloves and the kitchen was full of food which would attract animals if left behind. So, we contacted the Thunder Bay Regional Hospital and local food banks and developed a local food donation plan.
We reached out to our First Nation community partners. Accessible only by winter road and airplane, they were facing potential food shortages. After determining their needs, we sent two plane loads of food to Marten Falls and provided Webequie with two-way handheld radios for use in their curfew enforcement.
Additional food was flown to Thunder Bay for use in food hampers delivered to families by the Regional Food Distribution Association and the masks and gloves were donated to the hospital.
Scott Jacob, our Manager, Community Relations, helped Chelsie Klassen, Global Director, Indigenous Engagement from our contractor partner Hatch, communicate with the Chiefs at Marten Falls and Webequie. Hatch assembled 300 cleaning supply bundles for residents in both communities—enough to last each household six months.
Chelsie explains why this was important:
“We can all recall the feeling of going to local stores during COVID-19 and seeing empty shelves for the first time. But we still had the option to go to the next store, down the street. Imagine having empty shelves and the only way to get to the next store is by airplane. Everyone should have access to supplies needed to keep their families safe.”
Special thanks to Thunder Bay Broom & Chemicals and North Star Air for their support with this initiative.