Meegwetch, Mr. Chair.
Kuei, members of the committee.
I want to say what a privilege it is to be here today. I'm especially excited to have the opportunity to speak with Chief Steeve Mathias. This will be one of the finest discussions I've taken part in since becoming a member of Parliament. I should say that my father would be particularly proud to see us conversing formally in a parliamentary committee. I'm quite moved to be here, so I'd like to thank my fellow member Sylvie Bérubé for giving me this chance.
You'll notice that, behind me, is a painting by one of your famous artists, Frank Polson. It's with me just about every time I have a meeting online. I like having it close by not just for its artistic beauty, but also for its symbolic importance. It exemplifies the riding of Abitibi—Témiscamingue, which has a strong and vital indigenous presence.
Mr. Mathias, your role and leadership were fundamental in keeping your fellow constituents and community members safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first time we spoke, it had to do with bringing home members of the community who were travelling, some of whom had health issues.
I want to mention how warmly you welcomed them. Once the arrangements had been made and they were able to return home, you made sure they had a safe place to stay while in quarantine. They were well looked after. The food was already there. That just goes to show the compassionate spirit that guides you when members of your community are involved. You also showed leadership to keep the virus from spreading like a powder trail, as you put it. You acted boldly in closing off your community, because you feared the virus would spread quickly among members of the community given the housing conditions.
At that point, what did you ask the federal government for?