News that a Calgary company that manufactures air shelters in Newfoundland has been awarded a contract for a field hospital in Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (MCCN) at Pukatawagan has the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) questioning the federal government’s procurement process.
CBC Newfoundland and Labrador reported May 3 that Dynamic Air Shelters, in partnership with First Pac West from Vancouver and Dymond Group in Ottawa, had been awarded a contract to provide a medical shelter for screening and triage, four isolation units and four accommodation units. The shelters need to be in place by May 21 under the terms of the contract.
Dynamic Air Shelters CEO David Quick told CBC the materials for the shelters are being packaged in small bundles that can be flown in by small aircraft that can land on the community’s short airstrip and be unloaded into the back of pickup trucks.
AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas, a former chief of MCCN, said in a May 4 news release that he was surprised to learn of the contract via the CBC.
“While the AMC supports all locally determined initiatives that benefit the well-being of First Nations citizens in Manitoba, including temporary COVID-19 mitigation efforts, we were blindsided by media reports describing the contract,” said Dumas. “Manitoba chiefs and I are on regular teleconference call meetings with both the ISC Indigenous Services Canada) regional rirector general, and the FNIHB (First Nations and Inuit Health Branch) regional executive officer. Neither of Canada’s regional representatives mentioned this process. First Nations in Manitoba, as well as First Nations enterprise and First Nations-owned construction companies, could have easily built this project through a joint venture under federal procurement policies and according to standards.”
Dumas said the federal government should include First Nations in temporary and permanent infrastructure projects so that the money spent benefits the communities where the projects are undertaken.
“I call on the federal government to adhere to its Indigenous procurement policies and on Infrastructure Canada to work with the First Nations in Manitoba on all regional health, broadband, energy, and education infrastructure projects,” said the grand chief.