The reserve requested all those body bags

Health Canada was simply filling the order

Last month, when news broke that Health Canada had mailed dozens of body bags to a remote Manitoba reserve in preparation for the next wave of swine flu, the outrage was immediate. Jerry Knott, chief of the Wasagamack First Nation, personally returned some of the bags to bureaucrats in Winnipeg, while Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff demanded to know why Stephen Harper’s Conservatives “expect aboriginal Canadians to die.” Health Canada quickly apologized, saying it had “erred.” Well, it turns out that Ottawa didn’t err at all. According the findings of a much-anticipated investigation, the head of the community’s nursing station placed the order for 100 body bags on Aug. 12—but didn’t tell the chief. Health Canada was simply answering the request. “The person who placed the order made a bit of an error in requesting so much,” says Grand Chief Ron Evans, of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. “Had this person consulted with community leadership, the chief would have known that this sort of shipment would frighten people.”

National Post

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.