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Biological Control of Mosquitoes and Biting Flies Improves Quality of Life for First Nations Community

Many remote Aboriginal communities in Canada have few amenities, but with the recent settlement of land claims and the management of Native-owned natural resources, some First Nations are enjoying improved employment opportunities, healthcare and education.

They also are making significant improvements to their environmental health, in part by regaining access to their natural environment through a black fly and mosquito control program featuring VectoBac® biological larvicides.

One example is Nemaska Nation, a 600-person community comprising of Cree families who originally lived near the old Hudson Bay fur trading post along Lake Nemiscau. Still located within their ancestral grounds, their new village is on the shores of Lake Champion, about 1,000 kilometers north of Montreal. As the seat of the Grand Council of the Crees and Cree Regional Authority, Nemaska is very important to the nearly 15,000 Cree living in northwestern Quebec.

Nemaska is in the heart of the Baie James region, which is benefiting from the development of the world’s largest hydroelectric project. The project has resulted in the construction of a road network from Montreal to the area, as well as throughout the region. In addition to the influx of construction workers and managers arriving in the area, there are nine First Nations/Cree communities in the region that are intimately involved in the construction and management of this complex.

Initial Control Program

To improve the working environment for project construction workers, Quebec company Diamond Sylvico, with assistance of GDG Environment of Trois Rivieres, was hired to conduct a mosquito and black fly control program at residential camps located in the area. In 2009, Diamond Sylvico, a subsidiary of GDG Environment Group, initiated a mosquito and biting fly control program for Nemaska.

The demonstration program was considered a success, achieving a significant reduction in the number of black flies and mosquitoes in the area. “The biting fly control program has definitely improved the quality of life for the community,” said Nemaska Chief Josie Jimiken. “The use of a biological insecticide, like VectoBac®, has no negative effects on the local environment, which is equally important to the Cree.”

With the insect pests controlled, the chief explained that young children and elders are more active and can spend time outdoors. Increased levels of outdoor physical activities – playing, walking, visiting neighbors – are vitally important to the Cree Nation due to the increasingly high levels of diabetes in these remote communities. Now Nemaska residents can truly enjoy their outdoor environment without the constant barrage by mosquitoes and black flies.

One of the key champions of the Nemaska project was Chief Billy Diamond, who died September 30, 2010. Rejean Bergevin says Diamond Sylvico will remain committed to building on the success of the Nemaska project by providing relief to other First Nations communities across Canada, especially in memory of his late partner.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1510603758739{background-color: #f5efe0 !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]

In Remote Locations, Many First Nations Members Deal with Biting Flies, Mosquitoes

Nearly one million residents of Canada claim full or partial First Nations heritage. Many of the larger Native communities are located in or near major urban centers such as Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Vancouver. However, there are more than 600 other First Nations communities spread across Canada, mostly in the northern regions and in many remote locations.

Many of these communities are small, isolated villages, composed of several hundred residents. Since they often are situated on a lake or a river, these locations tend to be ideal habitats for mosquitoes and black flies. To date, few communities have been able to invest in mosquito or biting fly control programs, but with recent settlement of land claims and the management of Native-owned natural resources, that is beginning to change.