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Bella Desgagnes Passengers Still Waiting to Get Home


CFBS was speaking this morning with Clarissa Smith, a resident of Bradore, who was on board the M/V Bella Desgagnes yesterday morning when the passengers were disembarked in Kegaska following a crew member having tested positive for COVID-19. Clarissa reached out to CFBS to express her upset at the treatment they experienced while being left for hours in Kegaska with no information on when they would be brought to Natashquan for the chartered flight promised to bring them to Blanc-Sablon. According to Miss Smith, many passengers were still stranded in Natashquan as of this morning, frustrated after a long day of waiting for a ride to Natashquan, only to arrive in the evening with no flight arranged to go home and no accommodations arranged for the night upon arrival.

"We’re pretty beat. Stranded is not the word of what we’ve been through! Will we get home today?" Miss Smith said to CFBS this morning by Facebook Messenger. "Will we be stranded here for a few more days? We were told that our chartered flight would be ready for us, instead we sat for hours with no bathroom, no food, and no shelter! The wharf manager Mr. Mckinnon did his best to help us while waiting of his own accord, but it was not acceptable!" she said speaking with CFBS this morning by telephone.

"One flight has finally left with passengers for Chevery, the rest of us who are going to Blanc-Sablon have no set time yet of when we will be leaving, we have now been at the airport since 5am with no food and a bathroom not stocked with essentials. We should have been better taken care of by Relais Nordik than this! Our vehicles have now arrived home ahead of us and we are being told that the airline has to do regular flights before we will be accommodated now, why were we not top priority since yesterday morning? Fog is now setting in at home in Blanc-Sablon and we have no clue when we will arrive home at this point" Clarissa Smith added.

The company Relais Nordik Inc, operator of the maritime service of Anticosti Island and the Lower North Shore, stated in a press release issued yesterday that they were notified earlier in the morning of October 1st that a crew member, who was not currently on board the M/V Bella Desgagnés, tested positive for COVID-19. The employee in question has been off the ship since Monday September 28th. Company officials made the decision to isolate the employee and quickly submitted him for testing when they learned that one of the employee’s contact had tested positive. Given the rapid response, this will likely have helped to prevent the virus from spreading to other people.

This employee who works in the engine room is unlikely to have been in contact with crew members outside of his work bubble, and highly unlikely to have had contact with customers or citizens. No crew member presently on board has any symptoms at this time. A protocol of strict measures had been put in place in this regard by RNI and the STQ to ensure the safe service of Anticosti Island and the Lower North Shore.

CFBS has reached out to Relais Nordik Inc. manager Francis Roy this morning for a comment regarding the disembarked passengers who are still waiting in Natashquan.

Speaking with Warden Randy Jones this morning, he clarified that Relais Nordik Inc. transfers the responsibility to the STQ (Société des traversiers du Québec) on the Lower North Shore when they have an emergency and are unable to get passengers home.

Abbygail Wellman

​CFBS Journalist

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