Wapekeka, Bearskin Lake and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) recently announced plans for lock downs of the community or a shutdown of flights due to concerns over the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Wapekeka announced a complete Lock Down of the community for 24 hours from April 2 at 12 p.m. until April 3 at 12 p.m. in a March 27 advance notice posting. It is being held as a drill to prepare for when the community needs to do a lock down in the future.
“We’ve announced to our [community], to the airlines and the minister of transportation Ontario that we’re shutting down, a lock down, for a 24-hour period,” says Joshua Frogg, band manager at Wapekeka. “We’ve posted signs all over the community that we are going to be doing that.”
Frogg says the community is continuing to stockpile food, cleaning supplies and other supplies in case of a long-term shutdown.
He adds that the three confirmed COVID-19 cases in Thunder Bay have triggered a number of responses in his community.
“We’ve now issued a letter to the airlines that all airlines (need) to cease operations into Wapekeka, except Wasaya (Airways) who is authorized to bring in essential employees like police, nurses and people that need to be here and [community citizens] that left before for medical appointments and still have to come back,” Frogg says. “Any person that lands in Wapekeka other than the essential people, they go into a 14-day self-isolation self-monitoring (period).”
Frogg says the community has also advised the construction project contractors that are still working in the community that once they leave they cannot come back.
“The water and sewer project is still continuing,” Frogg says. “The contractor (has) about six or seven people on site — they’ve been here for almost a month. So they’ve decided to stay until they are not allowed to work anymore.”
KI announced a shutdown of all non-essential flights, with an exception for medical emergency flights, going into or out of the community except by Wasaya Airways beginning at 6 p.m. on March 28. KI plans to work out a schedule with Wasaya Airways that meets the needs of the community in an attempt to address the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Bearskin Lake announced a Lock Down on March 27 that came into effect on March 28 at 5 p.m., noting that people are not allowed to come into the community until further notice.
Sachigo Lake also announced their Community Pandemic Plan on March 30.