Yunesit’in (Stone) First Nation Chief Russell Myers Ross (left), TNG communications advisor Loretta Williams and TNG cultural ambassador Peyal Laceese drum at the beginning of the celebration.

COVID-19: Yunesit’in First Nation government postpones election until September

Chief and two members of council were to be elected in mid-July

An election for Yunesit’in First Nation chief and two members of council has been postponed.

Initially scheduled for July 15, the election will now take place on September 9 as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“There are no real rules around how to postpone an election in case of an emergency but we tried to delay it as far as we could,” Chief Russell Myers Ross said, adding the Yunesit’in Government has a custom election code.

“Out of safety, we don’t want candidates going door to door or the fact that we can’t assemble in gatherings we just decided that it’s probably more fair to have the election postponed and continue with life just a little bit more normal.”

Visitors remain prohibited from entering Yunesit’in and a checkpoint remains in place along Taseko Road.

Read More: Former Xeni Gwet’in chief drums traditional songs during pandemic lockdown

“So far there’s been no real incidents and we’ve happy that people are abiding by our law and our aspirations to keep the community safe,” Ross said.

“At this point we’re just going week by week and we’re just listening to how the province and Canada is responding to COVID-19 and how the health authorities are advising. So we’re just doing weekly check-ins to see whether or not we should keep continuing it but so far it seems to be working.”

The completion of a new guest lodge in the community is about two months behind and will not likely be ready until August or September. Ross said although the pandemic has slowed the team effort in some areas of construction leaving it up to individuals, the virus has not stopped things entirely.

“It hasn’t slowed down our construction groups,” he said. “They’re continually going out each working day and keep working on it. It looks like the walls are up and the roof is ready to go on.”

Ross said they have not been able to get their mill, and also milling facility in Horsefly to full production at this point.

Greenhouses have been delayed as well.

“We would have liked to have started in March and were hoping that we would get some irrigation upgrades (but) with the pandemic it’s been near impossible to get people in,” he said. “I think we might have a chance to get something done in the next week or something after, but we’re going to be starting our greenhouses a little later than what we expected.”

Tree planters are anticipated to arrive in the area later this month with a number of new precautions being implemented. Ross said the tree planters will have no contact with the community.

“But we are doing some contract work where we will be placing food and we’ll have drop points,” he said.

With the Tsilhqot’in National Government announcing on May 1 there was no transmission of COVID-19 as a result of an exposure last month Ross said it is a positive sign as up to three different communities could have been affected.

“I think we really dodged a bullet in a way and we’re just happy that everyone, especially the elders, are safe right now.”


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