Members of a First Nation in Alberta claim they were denied access to nearby businesses because there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the First Nations community.
The province’s top doctor spoke out after learning that members of Siksika First Nation east of Calgary were denied access to local businesses in a nearby town because of COVID-19.
“COVID-19 doesn’t care where people come from or what a person’s heritage may be. The virus is not restricted to any particular race, religion, or community,” said Chief Medical Officer Deena Hinshaw.
“This is not the first time that we have heard such reports around COVID-19. I know that Albertans of Chinese or other ethnic heritage and some religious groups have also at times been singled out and discriminated against.”
There has recently been a spike of COVID-19 on Siksika. Currently there are 11 active cases.
But Hinshaw says the community’s response to prevent the spread has been quick.
She didn’t name the businesses or individuals involved but says the members of Siksika deserve better.
“When the result of that prompt and transparent action is stigma against their members, it sends a message against transparency and risks discouraging people from being tested, or cooperating with public health.”
Alberta Health Services is investigating the incident.
In a tweet, Siksika thanked Hinshaw for advocating for its members, adding they will fight stigma with kindness.