First Nations say communication, proactivity key in successful management of COVID-19

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Communication with the younger generations was key to keep this in check but Crowfoot said the nation still lost a “couple” elders since March.

“Nobody that I know is out to purposely try to give this virus to the elderly people. It’s just one of those things that we don’t have full control of the situation, but with the parameters and guidelines in place we can at least put those barriers of safety up and give our elders at least a fighting chance.”

Video frame grab of Chief Ouray Crowfoot of the Siksika Nation during in Alberta government press conference on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.

Crowfoot said communication was key to limiting community spread.

Whether it’s video updates from the chief shared on social media, putting notices in the nation’s newspaper or in conversations with the nation’s health department and provincial and federal officials, the sharing of information has been invaluable.

“The information we knew in mid-March is a lot different than the information we know now, so it’s just bringing the community along as we get more information and as we get informed,” he said.

Though quick action helped the nation keep case numbers relatively low, Crowfoot said one of the biggest challenges they’ve faced is fear.

“When this virus first hit Alberta in mid-March, it was almost like it was smallpox 2020. The sky was falling. It was pandemonium everywhere,” he said.

“The predictions, some in the hundreds of thousands for cases and deaths, caused a lot of fear . . . On top of that, for Siksika for example, on our First Nation we don’t have some of what I call basic human needs or rights to be able to enforce some of these things like a police force, proper security, adequate housing, food supply.”

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