Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler stressed the importance of keeping focused on flattening the curve of the COVID-19 global pandemic during his May 5 update on the Wawatay Radio Network.
“I just want to start off by acknowledging the loss of one of the Elders from Mistissini on the Quebec Cree side due to COVID-19,” Fiddler says. “I was able to reach the Grand Chief Abel Bosum this morning just to express our support and our condolences on behalf of NAN (Nishnawbe Aski Nation) to the Quebec Cree Nation on the loss of one of their Elders. It is a reminder for all of us that even though the numbers of new cases may be levelling off in the north, we still need to be vigilant in our communities to keep our communities healthy and safe, especially our Elders.”
Fiddler says the Elders are the most vulnerable citizens of the community.
“We need to make sure we do everything we can to protect them in the days and weeks ahead,” Fiddler says. “Even though we may have heard the news about provincial governments looking at reopening their economy or their province, for example here in Ontario over the last few days where Premier Doug Ford has announced what they call the framework to reopen the province, we still need to maintain all the measures that we put into place in our communities over these last five or six weeks, including travel restrictions or limiting travel into our communities.”
Fiddler says people who need medical attention or who have medical appointments are being allowed to travel and the supply of essential goods is being allowed into the communities.
“But in terms of people travelling for holidays or the weekend or travelling from community to community, we’re saying that is not recommended,” Fiddler says. “We still need to stay in our homes and to maintain physical distancing in our communities. We cannot have large gatherings in our communities or the stores or in church or at community halls or workplaces.”
Fiddler says this is a “really good time” for families and hunters to go out on the land to harvest the migratory birds.
“We’re just reminding people that although you may be out on the land, you still need to follow the guidelines that are set in place by public health officials,” Fiddler says. “For example, if you are not feeling well you should not go out to the land.”
Fiddler says anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should call the nursing station.
“Don’t just show up there at their door,” Fiddler says. “They’re going to walk you through the process of what you need to do to protect your health but also just as importantly the health of your family that are living with you in your home.”
Fiddler also spoke about an issue raised by many of the NAN chiefs about First Nation citizens who are living in urban centres such as Thunder Bay, Timmins, Cochrane and Sioux Lookout.
“We need to make sure their needs are being met as well, whether it’s food, essential supplies, cleaning supplies,” Fiddler says. “We’ve done a lot of outreach with the Friendship Centre and groups like the Ontario Native Women’s Association and other partners to make sure we have access to our citizens that live in these urban centres to make sure they have the supports they need. We’re making sure they have the supplies they may require for themselves, especially for their children. That is something that is a real priority for us during this time just to make sure our youth, our children are safe in their homes.”
NAN also posts COVID-19 updates and resources at nancovid19.ca/