In Fort Liard, a 500 person Dene Metis community in the Northwest Territories, the Saturday night radio request show is not to be missed.
“It feels good bringing the community together, for me that’s what it’s all about,” says Myra Conrad, radio host on CKLB Radio. “Making sure that everyone stays together, stays strong. I never get to hear myself so it’s a good thing.”
Conrad has been here for the better part of two decades.
CKLB radio is an Indigenous station offering a platform for northerners to share their well wishes.
While physical distancing measures prevents drum dances – it doesn’t, in any way, hinder sharing music.
Messages come from near and far.
“I want to say to the Elders Keep Hop, Mayor Deneron and the good people of Fort Liard that the dene nation stands with you all and our praying for you all also,” says Grand Chief Normal Yakeleya of the Dene Nation. “We ask that you continue to keep safe and do your part by following the COVID guidelines.
“The dene values of caring for one another is so much needed now in this time.”
On Jan. 23, Fort Liard reported six confirmed cases of COVID-19, 50 others were in isolation after one case led to a community cluster.
The community was under a 14 day containment order which prohibited gatherings, closed schools and non-essential businesses.
For Conrad, the pandemic is personal.
“I have family in the south and a brother who is struggling with COVID right now,” she said. “Yeah he is very sick due to Covid and it is really hard because we can’t be there as a family for him. I can’t even visit him. Even if I wanted to, I do really want to let him know I am there for him but I cannot travel.”
Conrad says while the cases of the virus are unsettling, NWT’ers will get through it together by following the rules, and by staying close to the radio.