‘Our people are resilient’: Manitoba First Nations organization prepares for pandemic


On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. APTN News is reporting from across the country on the viral outbreak and how it is impacting Indigenous communities. Read more here: COVID-19 APTN News
Indigenous organizations are taking steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic less than a week after Manitoba recorded it’s first case.

“We find ourselves in perilous times. We find ourselves in a precarious situation but I think that our people are resilient have always been resilient. We have been through many epidemics” said Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO).

He said MKO has a plan.

It includes several recommendations for First Nations.

Both federal and provincial governments have encouraged social distancing, but overcrowded homes is a reality for many communities.

MKO medical advisor Dr. Barry Lavallee urged communities to postpone gatherings with 10 or more people as opposed to the province’s recommendation of 50 or more.

This is due to reasons including preexisting health conditions and lack of access to health services.

Other recommendations include closing community borders to limit people coming in and going out.

There were no document cases of COVID-19 as of publishing time.

But Lavallee said community members should assume the virus has already spread.

Reporter / Winnipeg

Brittany joined the APTN news team in October 2016. She is Ojibway and a member of the Long Plain First Nation in Manitoba. Before coming to APTN, she graduated with a joint degree in communications from the University of Winnipeg and Red River College.