Pam Nolan, manager of health and social services for Garden River First Nation, was feeling pretty surprised and overwhelmed yesterday.
Nolan received a visit from Dr. Carolyn Bennett, federal Liberal health critic and member of Parliament for the Toronto riding of St. Paul’s; and Dr. Kirsty Duncan, MP for Etobicoke North and an internationally recognized expert in pandemic preparedness.
They were interested in the emergency preparedness plans developed by the Garden River Wellness Centre.
Bennett and Duncan wanted to see how it's done here and maybe take away some ideas on the best way to prepare a community for an emergency like a pandemic.
Both were very excited about what they found and plan to spread the news of Garden River's initiatives far and wide, starting with Leona Aglukkaq, federal minister of health.
They were also joined yesterday by Christian Provenzano, federal Liberal candidate for Sault Ste. Marie and Dr. David Walde, retired Sault Area Hospital head of oncology.
"We're just doing what we feel needs to be done for our community," said Nolan. "We know that, if there's ever any pandemic or any other emergency, we're going to have to know how to take care of ourselves and each other."
Together with Maxine Lesage, health services supervisor for the Garden River Wellness Centre and the rest of the team there, Nolan has been working on emergency preparedness plans since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002.
They decided they also wanted their community members to be prepared to look after themselves and each other in the case of any emergency.
So they put together 45 emergency preparedness kits and they wrote a booklet.
The kits were assembled with the help of Canadian Tire in Sault Ste. Marie and the people who received them were instructed in how to use and maintain them.
Shown in the photo are Dr. Walde, Lesage, Nolan, Dr. Bennett, Dr. Duncan and Provenzano.