Anthony Billyboy and Ted Sam manage a checkpoint at Taseko Lake Road west of Williams Lake on May 16, 2020. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

Anthony Billyboy and Ted Sam manage a checkpoint at Taseko Lake Road west of Williams Lake on May 16, 2020. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

Coalition of First Nations sign agreements to receive detailed COVID-19 case numbers

Systemic change in B.C.’s healthcare system must still occur, say First Nations

Multiple First Nations say more work needs to be done after signing COVID-19 sharing agreements with B.C.’s provincial health officer that provide more detailed information about case numbers in nearby communities.

Nearly two months after B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner ruled sufficient information was readily available, the Heiltsuk Nation, Tsilhqot’in National Government and Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council recently negotiated and signed information-sharing agreements with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Heiltsuk Nation chief councillor Marilyn Slett said although it does not entail everything the nations were looking for, it is a step in the right direction, noting past pandemics have been detrimental for First Nations.

“One of the things that one of our hereditary leaders said to us early on in the pandemic is what is different now is we should have this information at our fingertips,” she said.

“We didn’t have that, but that’s also what motivated us to keep going, and to make sure that we need to promote as this is something that will benefit our community, keep our community safe and ultimately save lives.”

Read More: Privacy commissioner rules B.C. giving enough COVID-19 info after First Nations’ complaint

Under the agreements, Henry will provide the nations with almost daily reports listing the number of COVID-19 cases in proximate communities such as Williams Lake, Port Hardy, Bella Coola and Prince Rupert.

Certain thresholds must be met before the nations can disclose the number of cases in their public risk statements. For proximate communities with a population of fewer than 20,000 residents, there have to be 10 or more cases and five or more cases in near communities with more than 20,000 residents.

“While we anticipate there may be an opportunity to expand these kinds of agreements in the future, at this point in time, we are beginning with these agreements and expect to learn about further opportunities and considerations with respect to this approach,” a Ministry of Health spokesperson said.

Although Slett said they can now offer improved risk assessments and guidance to their community members with more detailed and up-to-date information, the nations believe systemic change must still occur in B.C.’s healthcare system including establishing new structures and protocols that support sufficient and timely information sharing with Indigenous governments during emergencies.

Read More: As another COVID-19 variant is detected in Canada, B.C. confirms no cases of it

Do you have a comment about this story? email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC HealthCoronavirusFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sandi Griffiths is the region’s new district manager of transportation for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
New MOTI district manager takes the wheel in Williams Lake

Sandi Griffiths replaces Todd Hubner who retired recently

Mclean Silverton rides a rail in Boitanio Park - one of seven new features installed by the city this past week. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Snow park in Boitanio open for riding

If any users find that the park requires attention, please contact city hall at 250-392-2311

A snowfall warning has been issued for Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Black Press Media)
Snowfall warning issued for Cariboo region

Between 10 to 15 cm expected

Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) co-ordinator Surinderpal Rathor (from left) Judy Gibbons and Rajneesh Khugsal, seen here in 2020, are all ready to help people file their taxes. (Patrick Davies photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake volunteers ready to offer community income tax program

Co-ordinator Surinderpal Rathor said he has already received inquiries

Women’s Contact Society community liaison Eileen Alberton with her dogs Luigi, left, and Sami enjoys a daily walk in Big Lake. (Photo submitted)
Women’s wellness focus of International Women’s Day events in Williams Lake

In its third year, the event will be offered virtually

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

Most Read