Saskatchewan family survives COVID-19 by returning to the trap line

‘This is where I wanted to bring my family and to stay here and be at peace and self isolate.’


A half-hour boat ride from Stanley Mission is where you’ll find Annie McKenzie and her family.

Around mid March, the Cree family from the community 460 km north of Saskatoon, decided the best way to survive a pandemic was to be on her trapline to outwait out the virus.

It’s a place where self isolation has always been around.

“This is closed in the winter time,” her daughter Darlene translated from Cree, Annie’s mother tongue. “It opens in the spring time and it’s a family-owned fishing camp, but because of the COVID and her medical conditions we came in March just to get away from the community.”

Annie has diabetes and wanted to be as far from the virus as possible.

She says she feels safe on her trap line.

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Annie McKenzie cleans fish on her trap line in northern Saskatchewan. Photo: Priscilla Wolf/APTN

Her day consists of keeping up a routine.

“On a daily basis she wakes up, wash up, wash her face, gather the wood, get the water, and just walk around – do little stuff here and there, go inside do her puzzles, make a fire and just the same routine all the time.

Annie’s children and grandchildren joined her on the family trap line.

Darlene’s college was closed and self isolation was the only option.

But it wasn’t easy leaving home.

“I still had to do online classes which was tough because there’s no signal here,” she said. “So I had to go out on the lake to get a signal to attend class. It was fun.”

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Pictographs along the McKenzie trap line in northern Saskatchewan. Photo: Priscilla Wolf/APTN

Chief Tammy Cook Searson says she supports Annie and her family in their choice to self isolate.

“Just coming on the land supporting trappers trapping lifestyle it’s something that’s always been near and dear to who we are,” she said. “We’ve always been hunters, fishermen, trappers – always lived off the land.”

Saskatchewan has 708 cases of COVID-19. More than 400 of those cases are people in the north. The Northern Village of La Loche had 143 confirmed cases and three deaths. Thirteen people have died in Saskatchewan since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

Annie and her family plan to stay put – in self isolation until it’s safe to go home.

“There’s no place I would rather be,” said Darlene. “This is where I wanted to bring my family and to stay here and be at peace and self isolate.”

 

Reporter / Saskatoon

Priscilla is Cree and a member of Mistawasis Nehiyawak in Saskatchewan. She has worked with APTN National News in the past as a reporter in Winnipeg, host for an entertainment segment, and the 2010 Winter Olympics. Wolf is an alumni of the INCA –Indian Communications Arts Program at FNUC & has a BA of Indigenous Studies from the University of Regina. She brings over ten years of experience working in media across the prairie provinces.