Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Dog Creek) Chief Patrick Harry stands in front of one of three checkpoints now in place to stop visitors from entering the communities. (Photo submitted)

Checkpoints stopping visitors entering Stswecem’c Xgat’tem (Canoe Creek/Dog Creek) First Nation

Chief Patrick Harry said ranchers and residents needing to go through en route are being permitted

Checkpoints are in place at all entrances to Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Dog Creek) in B.C.’s Interior stopping non-residents from entering due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns.

Chief Patrick Harry said the community has the support of the RCMP, although police are not at the check points.

He met with officers Monday morning to let them know personnel at the checkpoints are stopping visitors from coming into the community until further notice.

“This pandemic is fast and furious,” Harry told Black Press Media. “Where we were last Monday compared to today is vastly different. We are encouraging people not to travel out to Canoe Creek and Dog Creek at this time. If they do they may face check points and road closures.”

Checkpoints are up at the Dog Creek community entrance, the Enterprise Road turnoff and at the Poison Lake or what he said is known as “Indian Meadows” turn off.

The community’s emergency operations centre has not been activated as of yet, but operations have gone to essential services only.

“Out of precaution we sent some 30 employees home and are running our health, financial and a limited maintenance and operations crew,” Harry said. “There’s myself and one other person in the office here.”

Read more: B.C. announces $5 billion financial relief for COVID-19 pandemic

The Canoe Creek Co-op Store remains open and efforts are being made to keep items in stock.

Social distancing measures are being implemented in the store to protect the staff, he said, adding only residents will be able to shop in the store.

The store also provides the only fuel source for the communities and non-residents will not be permitted to purchase gasoline.

“Our store is an essential service in terms of food and fuel and when people come out this far — it’s 85 kilometres from Williams Lake and if they are heading over to Canoe Creek they are probably going to need gas. We are warning that if they get out this far they won’t have access to the fuel station.”

Harry said leadership is encouraging residents to self-isolate for 14 days if they have travelled, and at this point, all band members are being advised to self-isolate, whether they have travelled or not, especially the elders.

“That’s easier said than done, but with each day that goes by this gets more and more serious,” Harry said. “These are trying times for us. This is something we’ve never faced. We’ve faced fires and floods, due to climate change, but something like this, as most people know, is such a challenging situation.”

Read more: A letter from Williams Lake doctors on COVID-19: ‘Lives depend on your actions now’

Harry said they have been in contact with local ranchers or residents who may need to pass through the communities en route to home or town to let them know about the measures they are implementing.

So far everyone has been understanding as far as he knows, he added.

“They will be able to drive through to go home but no one can get out of their vehicles. Everybody is supposed to be self-isolating, yet we did see a lot of traffic on the weekend. We are doing our best to control traffic through our communities. We don’t want to become exposed by someone travelling through from the Lower Mainland or somewhere like that.”

The Canim Lake Band/Tsq’escen

The Canim Lake Band/Tsq’escen has been in prevention mode since the announcement of the pandemic, confirmed Kukpi7 (Chief) Helen Henderson.

“We immediately ceased all staff travel, cancelled community gatherings and meetings. We sent out a message from Chief and Council via social media and house-to-house distribution with information packages around COVID-19 including handwashing, social distancing and sanitizing all surfaces.”

The band initially reduced our hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday, but that has changed.

“As of today, we have decided to activate our Emergency Management Centre using our Pandemic Plan. This means our offices will now be closed and reduced to essential services: Health, O&M, and Income Assistance distribution by the end of today at 3:00 p.m.”

Henderson said the band continues to inform members via social media on the precautions they need to take on a continuous basis.

“Our main concern is our vulnerable population: Elders, those with compromised immune/health systems. We are taking every measure to ensure they are kept safe including reminding members of handwashing, social distancing, isolation (staying home).”

Williams Lake Indian Band

Last week on March 19, Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Willie Sellars gave his community a video update, adding all communications will be online as all group meetings have been cancelled.

Tsilhqot’in National Government

The Tsilhqot’in National Government confirmed Monday it has not declared a state of emergency as of yet but has activated its Emergency Operations Centre has been sharing information and recommendations by public health authorities with communities.

Previously, however, Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse urged band members to err on the side of caution’ amid the pandemic and said he planned to self-isolate.

Read more: B.C. Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse urges caution amid COVID-19

Nuxalk Nation

A local state of emergency has been declared by the Nuxalk Nation requesting a shutdown of all non-essential travel in and out of the community for 14 days.

Read more: Nuxalk Nation, CCRD declare local state of emergency in response to COVID-19

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