B.C. policy on not sharing COVID-19 information with First Nations ‘reckless’ and ‘colonial’ say leaders

Nations are demanding government provide up to date information about virus near their communities.

The Heiltsuk, Nuu-chah-nulth and Chilcotin Nations have launched an online campaign demanding that the B.C. government share COVID-19 case information.

“With the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise in the province and officials warning of a second wave in the fall, leaders say time is of the essence.

“If COVID-19 proximate case information does not represent information about a risk of significant harm to our communities, we don’t know what does,” said Marilyn Slett, chief councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation. “The idea that we need to have an outbreak – as we have just had in our community – before B.C. will share information, is reckless and colonial, and it goes against B.C.’s own laws and promises of reconciliation.”

The nations have filed a complaint with the province’s privacy commissioner.

Adrian Dix, the Health minister for B.C. says they are currently working on these issues.

“There are issues to balance here in terms both in terms to a right to privacy which is closely connected with their willingness to engage with us in the healthcare system so this has been a point of discussion really from the very beginning really from the first cases,” he said.

Some communities are coming across information that is needed to keep people safe.

“We found out on Monday that we had two confirmed COVID-19 cases in our community, we found that out via one of our council members who was informed by the individuals who came home from another community,” said Tsleil-Waututh Nation Chief Leah George.

The online petition has nearly reached its goal of 800 signatures.

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