Thursday, September 17, 2009

How considerate of the Tories...

First Nations communities across the country have received more than 200 body bags from the government in preparation for the coming H1N1 epidemic said Jim Wolfe, director of First Nations and Inuit Health of Manitoba on Thursday.

Public condemnation was quick to follow the shipment, with federal health minister Leona Aglukkaq promising to launch a probe into the decision, which she called "insensitive and offensive."

"As minister of health and as an aboriginal, I am offended. To all who took offense at what occurred, I want to say that I share your concern, and I pledge to get to the bottom of it," she said.

The shipment has sent shock waves of fear through First Nations communities, for whom 'swine flu' is a particularly sensitive topic. Jim Wolfe was quick to describe the process by which medical supplies are shipped to First Nations, noting the difficulty of shipping supplies to isolated reserves during the winter months. According to him, the body bag shipment was nothing more than a regular delivery that came at a bad time.

But if the shipment was nothing more than a regular delivery, why on earth would health officials risk igniting public fear and outrage by delivering it with H1N1 preparation kits? Surely there must have been someone who saw this decision and thought to themselves, now this might not turn out too well. Rather than arguing whether this shipment was right or wrong, I think people should be thinking about whether it was STUPID or smart.

It could be the most regular shipment in the world, but when it comes at a time like this when society is in the grips of fear of an epidemic, a delivery of body bags is sure to incite anger, fear, hurt, and public condemnation. If a person in a position of power failed to recognize this, then clearly there needs to be a reviewal of whether that person is sensible and sensitive enough to be working in such a position of prominence in Canadian society.

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