First Nation chief in Saskatchewan makes headlines in U.S. for COVID-19 preparation

The chief of the Pasqua First Nation in Saskatchewan has drawn the attention of a magazine in the United States because of his planning for the COVID-19 virus compared to President Donald Trump.

Matthew Peigan says he started paying attention to how the COVID-19 events were unfolding on the other side of the world in early January and that he had to prepare for what was coming.

“Well if we ever go into lockdown I know we are going to supply the bare essentials to survive; groceries, meat, vegetables so that’s what we are preparing for,” said Peigan. “If we don’t let the virus or the disease into my First Nation’s borders then we can continue on in life.

“At least the council and I made a decision to protect the people we serve as best we can.”

His preparations caught the attention of Esquire Magazine in the United States.

In the , Charles Pierce wrote that U.S. President Donald Trump could learn from Peigan.

“Consider the comparison. The chief of a First Nations reservation in Saskatchewan sees this coming from months off and prepares to protect his people accordingly, and as well as he can,” wrote Pierce in his March 18 article.

“It’s now the middle of March, and the President of the United States is just getting around to committing the fullness of the government’s power to the fight against the disease that Chief Peigan saw coming in January.”

Peigan told APTN News he doesn’t care about the attention.

“I don’t really waste my time with that,” he said. “This virus isn’t about media attention that was never my intent.”

The leadership for the Pasqua First Nation started gathering supplies weeks ago before U.S. and Canadian leaders started to take this pandemic seriously.

Peigan said this scenario reminds him of the boy who cried wolf.

“In 2003 the World Health Organization turned around and told the world SARS is coming be ready it’s going to be a killer,” he said. “So the countries of the world got ready and I remember the Health Canada, Indian Northern Affairs that’s now called Indigenous Services Canada even got the First Nations prepared  nothing came about.

“It wasn’t very, very bad and in 2009 we got the H1N1 and again the world health organization said this is a killer so again everyone got prepared the world got prepared.”

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) killed 44 people but was mainly isolated in the Toronto area. H1N1, a coronavirus that hit Canada in 2008, Indigenous people made up 28 per cent of all hospital admissions and accounted for a quarter of all intensive care unit admissions.

(Shipping containers full of supplies sit on the Pasqua First Nation in Saskatchewan)

As other First Nation leaders are now trying to gather supplies for their communities, Peigan has some advice.

“All I can reiterate to all the First Nation and non First Nations is self isolate,” he said. “Keep your social distancing anyone sick stay away.

“I don’t know to me its scary and its even scarier because of the unknown.”

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1 thought on “First Nation chief in Saskatchewan makes headlines in U.S. for COVID-19 preparation

  1. Kudos to Chief Peigan! The question to me is why didn’t every other First Nation do the same? Every municipality? Province? Canada?

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