Covid-19 Daily News Digest – March 26, 2020
Protecting elders means protecting history
Indigenous communities will be among the hardest hit by the pandemic — this much we know. History shows that, in times of strife, the marginalized always suffer the most.
We even know who’s to blame for this fact: Canada.
The incredible poverty in Indigenous urban and rural communities is a result of the Indian Act, residential schools, and a host of other policies in the last 150 years. They have created situations where addiction, unsanitary conditions and sickness thrive. Whether tuberculosis or, more recently, H1N1, Indigenous communities will be hardest hit by any sickness. So, while Indigenous communities are at the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, those most vulnerable in them are most susceptible to the worst effects of the virus.
From a checkstop to Cree radio messaging, how a Manitoba First Nation is bracing for COVID-19
“It concerns me because it takes one person to be infected or exposed — that will put everybody at risk in their homes. There are some people that are actually taking shifts sleeping in their homes because there’s just not enough room,” he said.
“It’s pretty near impossible to actually keep your distance from your children and the people that you’re living with, and trying to make sure that you keep those people at home.”
‘A huge health risk’: First Nations pressured to hold elections amid COVID-19 pandemic, say experts
First Nations are being pressured by the federal government to hold elections in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to legal experts and band officials.
One Saskatchewan First Nation is going ahead with a vote on Friday despite pleas from its own emergency management team to postpone for 30 days.
“They’re forcing First Nations into a really awful dilemma. This is a huge health risk,” said lawyer Maggie Wente, whose Ontario firm works with Indigenous communities across Canada.
Manitoba delays sales tax cut and carbon tax plan due to COVID-19
“We are expanding our testing criteria to include the groups of people at risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19,” Roussin said.
The new criteria include people with respiratory symptoms who work in health care, live in remote, fly-in communities, or live in group settings such as shelters, work camps and nursing homes.
Niki Ashton, an NDP member of Parliament who represents much of northern Manitoba, said testing should be expanded to all First Nations, not just those accessible only by plane.
“We know that regions of our province are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, particularly First Nations, Metis and northern communities,” Ashton said.
“The reality on the ground is that all First Nations lack testing abilities.”
B.C. Interior First Nation on 14-day lockdown as precaution against COVID-19
Esk’etemc First Nation, located about 45 minutes south of Williams Lake, went into a two-week lockdown just before midnight on Tuesday, March 24 as a precautionary measure.
Esk’etemc First Nation communications manager Jonathan Hand told the Tribune Wednesday leadership is being proactive by stopping non-essential travel into the community.
“The lockdown requires all community members to remain inside their homes or yards at all times, with the exception of livestock owners who are permitted to feed animals twice a day.”
Addressing urgent needs in Indigenous communities related to COVID-19
Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services outlined the details of the $305 million for the new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund, to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities related to COVID-19.
Greater Victoria food banks ask public for financial donations during COVID-19 pandemic
Members of Greater Victoria’s food share network are sending out a plea to the public for more financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Food Sharing Network is comprised of key community organizations which support the region’s most vulnerable food insecure residents. Groups like First Nations, the Salvation Army, the Mustard Seed, St Vincent de Paul, St. John the Divine, the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness, Cool Aid, Our Place, and others, including Neighbourhood Houses, and seniors facilities are doing everything they can to remain open and deliver nutritious food to those in need within food safety protocols.
Before COVID-19, there were approximately 50,000 people served by these agencies. With increased job losses due to COVID-19, that number is expected to rise.
City, First Nation working together during COVID-19
The two governments are working together, he says, on multiple levels. Both emergency operations centres are open and in contact; the Kamloops and Kamloops Rural RCMP detachments are helping each other; and TteS has been teleconferencing with other First Nations communities in the area.
“During these difficult times, we encourage all of the public to stay calm, to be careful and to take each day in a safe way,” Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir says in the video. “We also want to reiterate the importance that the youth are following the same recommendations.”
Saik’uz First Nation Chief asking members to visit Vanderhoof only for essential services
Saik’uz First Nation Chief is calling on band members to take COVID-19 more seriously.
“My concerns are that members are not taking this seriously and still going to Vanderhoof for unnecessary reasons,” Chief Priscilla Mueller told the Omineca Express on March 25.
She said that members should go to Vanderhoof for groceries and urgent medical appointments, but “almost everything else can wait.”
COVID-19 Impact: CCAB research data confirms Indigenous Small/Medium Enterprises are most vulnerable
“Understanding the existing barriers that Aboriginal businesses already face, including lack of access to financing, means that government and business must work collaboratively and focus more on what needs to be done to help our most vulnerable,” said Bull. “We support the government’s initiative to provide financing through Business Development Canada and Export Development Canada and ask that the government also provide financing through established Indigenous institutions and directly to Aboriginal businesses.”
COVID-19 forces rescheduling of North American Indigenous Games
The North American Indigenous Games, scheduled to take place in the Halifax area this July, have been postponed due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers wish to reschedule the games for the same time next year in Halifax and keep participation open to all athletes who qualified to compete this year.
Homemade face masks look nice but won’t prevent COVID-19, says Manitoba doctor
“None of those cloths that cover your face are helpful for preventing COVID-19,” said Dr. Marcia Anderson, a medical officer of health at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and is the vice dean for Indigenous Health at the Rady Faculty for Health Sciences.
“They might look nice, the kokum scarves, they might look nice and fashionable, but not to prevent COVID-19.”
She said she is concerned about people gaining a false sense of security from masks and the possible risks that come with them.
Sask. Indigenous community establishes blockade to stop illegal drug flow amid pandemic
Cumberland House Cree Nation Chief Rene Chaboyer says some in his community are not following the physical distancing measures meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and are causing disturbances at night.
“Ever since the COVID-19 came about I think it really, really sparked the drugs and the alcohol. People going into that panic shopping (mode) instead of caring for their kids and caring for their food they’ve taken a different path,” said Chaboyer.
Mohawk communities close tobacco shops to limit visits by non-residents amid COVID-19 pandemic
Two Mohawk communities around the Island of Montreal say despite closing tobacco and cannabis businesses to minimize traffic from outside the community amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, the shops’ non-Indigenous clients keep coming.
Kahnawake, on the south shore of the city, ordered all tobacco shops and factories within the community to close on March 21. But multiple residents told CBC News they’ve still been encountering people from outside the community driving through the streets in search of open stores, or approaching people out on walks.
Indigenous pandemic needs grow as federal funds prepare to flow
Gloves, masks and sanitizer are hard to come by in Grassy Narrows First Nation, according to Chief Rudy Turtle.
He said store shelves 88 kilometres southwest in Kenora, Ont., are running bare.
While he worries about people getting enough food to eat — not to mention toilet paper — Turtle said his most pressing fear is harder to quantify: the risk of someone introducing COVID-19 into his community of more than 1,000.
“We’re doing our best to control it, but it’s really tough,” Turtle said. “People should stay away from Grassy if they don’t have to come here.”
NWT hopes residents amplify ads in bid to prevent Covid-19 spread
“Currently, we have close to 30 different ads running on an aggressive schedule with different messages,” said Westwick.
Those include what he calls “shareable graphic tiles with tips on prevention, self-isolation, and how to stay sane through it all,” alongside videos explaining the basics of Covid-19.
Many of the videos tell residents: “Don’t be a spreader.”
Westwick says the bulk of government’s strategy is to use social media sharing and advertisements to reach more than 32,000 people in the territory.
No option off the table as Indigenous communities step up prevention efforts
No solution appears to be completely off the table for Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario as they continue to look at ways to protect their communities from the spread of COVID-19.
Atikameksheng Anishnawbek revealed on Tuesday it would be closing its borders to all outside traffic in a bid to encourage physical isolation.
“We’re really concerned about our small community, we’re definitely a high-risk population with low capacity to respond and we recognize that so we made the decision to close the border basically. We shut down the road that allows people into the community,” said Chief Valerie Richer. “We had smaller signs but they weren’t working so we have a big electronic sign, we have two people that are there and telling people.” https://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/no-option-off-the-table-as-indigenous-communities-step-up-prevention-efforts-1.4868505
Cree police called in to action as Waswanipi tightens community access
Cree police in northern Quebec are being called into service to help residents get the message about the need to follow guidelines regarding social distancing and not gathering in large groups.
It is just one of the new security, health and safety measures added to Cree communities as the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 intensifies in the region.
“Our police officers now have the authority to take action against people who are not abiding by the measures or the directions from the leadership,” said Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum.
‘It’s like a rolling high tide that’s coming’: Indigenous communities prepare for COVID-19
“Where I’m from, people are really alert now,” says Canon Norm Wesley, co-chair of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP). Wesley lives in Moose Factory, Ont., in the diocese of Moosonee. “I’d say a week ago, people were seeing this as something that’s quite distant—you know, we’re talking about people who are sick in China and Europe, in Italy, places like that. And bang, you know, just within days—it’s almost like a high tide. We get a lot of tides around here. It’s like a rolling high tide that’s coming, and it’s not quite here yet, but it’s very very close.”
COVID-19 crisis tells world what Indigenous Peoples have been saying for thousands of years
“The coronavirus is telling the world what Indigenous Peoples have been saying for thousands of years — if we do not help protect biodiversity and nature, we will face this and even worse threats,” said Levi Sucre Romero, a BriBri Indigenous person from Costa Rica and co-coordinator of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB).
Romero was one of three Indigenous leaders invited to speak on the panel for an event sponsored by Covering Climate Now, a global partnership of more than 400 news outlets working to increase accurate news coverage on climate change.
First Nation leaders say $305M not enough as MPs greenlight COVID-19 relief measures
“I think that money is going to run out pretty quick,” Grand Chief Joel Abram said about the $305-million Indigenous community support fund, which the package includes.
North American Indigenous Games postponed due to COVID-19
“The collective goal for all of us at this time is to keep everyone safe and healthy,” says Tex Marshall, President of NAIG 2020. “To abide by the recommendations and guidance of the Nova Scotia government and its healthcare professionals is critical to slowing and eliminating this pandemic, even if it means the delay of something amazing. We at NAIG 2020 are proud of Nova Scotia’s remarkable and unfaltering efforts during this crisis.”
Indigenous health leaders to hold key online meeting
Hundreds of Indigenous health managers from across Canada will meet online tomorrow to discuss how the novel coronavirus pandemic is affecting their communities.
Marion Crowe of the First Nations Health Managers Association says the meeting will allow managers to compare notes on their specific challenges of fighting the virus.
She says it’s hard to hand-wash when tapwater isn’t drinkable and impossible to self-isolate in overcrowded homes.
She adds many Indigenous people have bitter memories of the health-care system and don’t trust its officials.
Still, she says many lessons were learned during 2009’s H1N1 epidemic.
Assembly of First Nations declares national state of emergency over COVID-19 pandemic
The Assembly of First Nations declared a national state of emergency Tuesday over the COVID-19 pandemic and is calling for a boost in “resources and support to First Nations.”
In a news release, the AFN said the increased resources should be “based on needs and equity” and noted that funding to First Nations governments “cannot be on a proposal basis.”
Indigenous friendship centres, service providers scramble to provide programming amid COVID-19 shutdown
Indigenous friendship and support centres in Ottawa are cancelling non-essential services and programs while scrambling to find ways to serve their clients as the city braces for the COVID-19 pandemic to hit at-risk people who may be on the street, homeless or vulnerable in other ways.
“Many of the clients are certainly facing a lot of hardships now that our services are being impacted,” said Amy Nahwegahbow, president at the Odawa Native Friendship Centre.
“I think that a lot are stressed, fearful. We’re getting a lot of calls. Although what we’re seeing too is communities are pulling together and they’re trying to keep positive.”
Nunavik’s Raglan mine plans to send northern workers back home
Nunavik’s two mines along the Hudson Strait remain in operation, but they have boosted their preventive protocols in response to COVID-19.
As well, the Raglan mine said today that it will send its Nunavik workers home.
COVID-19 pandemic plan needed for Canada’s jails and prisons
We know from past pandemics that First Nations suffer higher infection and death rates. During H1N1, Indigenous peoples made up 28 per cent of hospital admissions during the first wave and 18 per cent of deaths despite only being 4 per cent of the population in 2009 – the majority being First Nations. In Winnipeg, Manitoba, 55 per cent of admissions to the Children’s Hospital were Indigenous people.