Deputy Grand Chief Jason Smallboy focused on COVID-19 cases in Nishnawbe Aski Nation, NAN Hope, seasonal flu shots and Treaties Recognition Week during his WRN (Wawatay Radio Network) Update.
“Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority was notified that a person from outside the community tested positive for COVID-19,” Smallboy says. “This individual travelled to KI (Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug) and Wapekeka on Oct. 23 and the individual tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 31.”
Smallboy says the individual did not have any symptoms but may have been infectious while in the communities.
“Anyone in these communities that is showing symptoms should call the nursing station for an assessment,” Smallboy says. “Those who were exposed to this individual for more than 15 minutes without a face covering should contact their local nursing station for an assessment. Casual contact with this individual is very low but self monitoring is encouraged. Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority’s Preventing Infectious Diseases team is working with the communities’ health staff to support the public health management of the case, and contact tracing has begun.”
Smallboy says First Nations in Manitoba are continuing to experience a surge in COVID-19 cases, and the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team is strongly encouraging First Nations people to cancel any non-essential travel to Winnipeg and to the Northern Health Region.
“This situation highlights how much of a risk COVID-19 remains to our people and especially to our Elders,” Smallboy says.
Smallboy says the NAN Task Team continues to examine how citizens in NAN communities can safely access medical care during the pandemic.
“Keeping communities safe during COVID-19 means more than just focusing on the virus,” Smallboy says. “It also means making sure that (citizens) protect their health by getting treatment they need. Our leadership may feel anxious about medical travel during the second wave, it is important though that (citizens) continue to access the health care they need during this time. Delays in proper health care can lead to worse health outcomes.”
Smallboy says citizens can take measures such as wearing a face mask for the duration of their flight, while indoors or where physical distancing is not possible.
Smallboy says the NAN Hope 24/7 mental health crisis line is now live.
“We want to ensure that our Elders are made aware of NAN Hope and that they can access help in their language at any age through this service,” Smallboy says. “So please share this information with our Elders in our communities.”
Smallboy says NAN Hope is available by calling 1-844-NAN-Hope, or 1-844-626-4673.
“I encourage anyone who is struggling during this pandemic to call this number and get the help they need,” Smallboy says. “Help is available — you are not alone.”
Smallboy says all citizens are encouraged to get their seasonal flu shot.
“The flu shot prevents you from getting very sick,” Smallboy says. “Even if you believe you will not get sick from the flu, getting the vaccine may help prevent you from passing the flu on to vulnerable people in the community.”
Smallboy says the purpose of Treaties Recognition Week is to honour the importance of the treaties and to help people in Ontario to learn more about treaty rights and relationships.
“It is important to teach the public and students of our schools the First Nations understanding of the treaties so they can gain knowledge about their country’s history, how Canada was founded and the people it still continues to affect,” Smallboy says. “We are all treaty people.”