Covid-19 Daily News Digest – March 18, 2020
- Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is advising communities to ban non-essential travel. “With the rapidly escalating COVID-19, the AMC recognizes the fact that First Nations in Manitoba cannot use or apply the ongoing provincial and federal criteria,” Dumas said Tuesday in the news release.
- Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs postpone all-clans meeting. “It is good to hold off,” Mr. Ridsdale said. “Seems that there may be a bit of panic on COVID-19.” Each of the clans held small gatherings during the first two weeks of March, but no date has been scheduled yet for the larger, all-clans meeting. “Always best to be safe than sorry,” said Mr. Ridsdale, who is head chief for Rafters on Beaver House.
Indigenous educators are volunteering their time to help educate students online as schools in many provinces and territories are closing in efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. “I wanted to offer these online Facebook, social media classes for parents who are at home with their kids, just so they can connect with their learning,” said Chris Scribe.
- Indigenous communities in Quebec are taking extra steps to protect their territories.
Schools are closed and playgrounds empty in Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, just south of Montreal. Hospitals are restricting access while arenas, daycares, bars and bingo halls are closed until further notice. https://aptnnews.ca/2020/03/17/shut-down-on-st-patricks-day-non-essential-infrastructure-shutters-across-canada-due-to-covid-19/
- Members of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation (TFN), an Indigenous community located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, are stopping cars travelling along Hwy. 4 from Port Alberni towards the Tofino-Ucluelet region. “We are stopping cars to stop COVID-19 from reaching the Coast,” said TFN hereditary chief and emergency preparedness co-ordinator Simon Tom. “We are doing this to protect all Tofino community and our residents. Not just our tribe, but the whole community. We have a small hospital so if it breaks out then we’ll have half the town will have to see the doctor. It’s safety precautions,” said Tom. “We were stopping the road to let them know about the virus. We weren’t letting anybody who were from out of town to come through. The only ones who are allowed to go through are those living in Ucluelet and Tofino and we didn’t stop the [delivery] trucks,” said Hunt. “Traffic stopped. A lot of people were getting out and screaming at us. They were saying this is our land, not yours. We belong here more than you and a lot of young people started to jump out of their cars telling us this is not right and we don’t have a right to this,” he continued.
- Vale has no plans to curtail or suspend its Greater Sudbury-area operations due to the coronavirus pandemic. “There has been no discussion of suspending operations in our North Atlantic Operations other than Voisey’s Bay and that there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst Vale employees to date,” Vale spokeswoman Danica Pagnuti said Tuesday. “In terms of Vale’s efforts to address COVID-19, since late January Vale has been taking all necessary measures to support the prevention of the COVID-19 at its sites.”
- Constance Lake declares State of Emergency over COVID-19
- On Mar. 16, Vale announced that it was placing its Voisey Bay operation on care and maintenance for four weeks as a precaution to protect the Nunatsiavut and Innu Indigenous communities in Labrador. According to Vale, the remote fly-in fly-out project has over 400 Indigenous workers, who are at greater risk from the COVID-19 pandemic in remote and vulnerable areas. “We want to ensure our operations do not act as a catalyst to inadvertently introduce the virus in[to] these remote and vulnerable communities, where concern has been expressed about access to adequate health care services and overcrowding in homes,” said Kristie Cochrane, manager of corporate affairs and communications at Vale Newfoundland and Labrador.
- In light of COVID-19, I worry about my mother and my community’s health. Indigenous communities are overcrowded. Two or three generations may live in one house. In some cases, two or three families might share one residence. This creates a problem if you are told to self-isolate for 14 days owing to a cough and fever. Furthermore, diabetes, heart and lung disease are rampant on many reserves, in numbers higher than in the general population. COVID-19 is more serious for older people with these and other underlying health issues, magnifying the dangers it presents to our elders and people generally.
- Cameron said the funding would allow them to hire more health workers, conduct more tests and ensure everyone has the medication they need. He said FSIN also needs to provide healthy food and other supports to some of those who are isolated. Cameron said this is especially important for northern or remote First Nations. He said initial talks with other government officials have been positive, but that it’s not enough. “There’s some instances where we feel good where there’s good comments, but now we need the actual action to happen at the First Nation level. We need action,” Cameron said.
- Six Nations of the Grand River near Hamilton, Ont., declared a state of emergency last week and Joel Abram, grand chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI), believes many more are about to. “Ontario has a state of emergency now so I expect most First Nations to follow suit,” said Abram. Abram said it will make it easier to get funding from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), something AIAI and its seven member nations in southern Ontario, have been working on.
- Hundreds of workers are being ordered out of two major worksites in Labrador in order to help prevent the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus to already vulnerable Indigenous communities.
- “Our elders remember the scourge of tuberculosis, as well as the rapid spread of German measles that killed many Inuit in the 1950s. Taking immediate action to essentially close the Arctic is important to protect our population from this new virus,” said Makivik President Charlie Watt in a news release Tuesday. Public officials warn the health system in Nunavik would be quickly “overwhelmed” if people began falling sick with COVID-19. “Because of the rampant overcrowding in many of our homes, there is no way for many Inuit to self-isolate if they get the virus,” said Watt.
- Being culturally sensitive is important too. Chinese traditional medicine has many practitioners who may see their approach as just as authoritative as a Western one. Indigenous peoples in Canada may turn to traditional medicine for support getting through the pandemic panic; past government failures during health crises and current shortages may make current conventional health protocol seem inaccessible.
- You only need to visit the Iqaluit Beer and Wine Store to see Nunavummiut embracing the new reality of social distancing. The small outlet – the only of it’s kind in Nunavut – has placed tape on the floor marking one-metre intervals, so that people can properly space themselves while waiting in the notoriously packed line.
- Airlines that fly in Nunavut and Nunavik have increased their preventive procedures to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
- Political leaders in Quebec’s Inuit territory of Nunavik are asking all travellers to stay away from northern communities, to avoid having to live through the kind of catastrophic epidemics that decimated past generations.
- “We are fully aware that we provide essential services to the people, communities and organizations that depend on us so we must remain particularly vigilant to this situation,” it reads. Canadian North says as it’s experiencing a “sudden and significant decrease in passenger demand,” it’s prioritizing freight transportation to maintain current capacity levels. The airline says it will also prioritize freight service to communities without road connections, if necessary.
- “Social isolation doesn’t mean emotional isolation,” Selby said. “Social isolation doesn’t mean lock yourself in your room and only watch TV and don’t talk to anybody.”
- “Encouraging to hear these measures announced by the prime minister to help First Nations during the #COVID19 crisis,” Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde wrote. https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/first-nations-covid-funds-coronavirus-1.5502062?cmp=rss
- Leaders in several isolated Labrador communities are limiting access to their towns as they attempt to stop COVID-19 from entering.