Joyce Cooper (left) said she had to set an example for Tsilhqot’in communities by sharing her COVID-19 positive results. (Photo submitted)

Joyce Cooper (left) said she had to set an example for Tsilhqot’in communities by sharing her COVID-19 positive results. (Photo submitted)

Tsideldel off-reserve member documents experience of COVID-19

We should all be supporting one another and not judging each other, says Joyce Cooper

The first thing Williams Lake resident Joyce Cooper thought of when she received her positive COVID-19 test results was her grandmother, who was gripped with fear and uncertainty as the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 circulated, ultimately killing her great-grandmother.

“She used to get so emotional when she talked about it and it brought me back to how she probably felt,” Cooper said of her late grandmother from her home in Williams Lake.

“She was always really cautious and always told us to make sure we’re safe.”

Despite Cooper and her family fully-practicing COVID-19 safety measures since the novel coronavirus was declared a pandemic, she still contracted the disease.

The off-reserve Tsideldel First Nation member and residential school survivor tested positive earlier this month as did her son and common-law partner with whom she shares her Williams Lake residence.

Read More: 95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

It took only a couple of days for Cooper’s symptoms to worsen after feeling unwell.

“We’re still not sure where it came from,” she said. “I was only in two places the day that they think I got it, so it could have been anywhere.”

As Cooper began to experience what she described as pneumonia-like symptoms, she decided to get tested at Cariboo Memorial Hospital for COVID-19.

She did not learn of her results until 48 hours later, when she had received a phone call.

“I was shocked because I thought we’ve been doing everything we can to be safe,” Cooper said.

While Cooper has had limited contact with other family members, including her daughters and grandchildren, they also got tested as a precaution and were negative.

Throughout her ordeal, Cooper has documented it on Facebook as an opportunity to showcase others what it is like and to be safe because you never know.

Read More: Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

“We practiced all the precautions, and I still got it,” she said.

“We have a lot of elders in our communities, and that’s who I worry about and knowing if I can get this, I can’t imagine what our elders would go through.”

Cooper said although both her son and common-law partner had fairly mild symptoms, she had taken the brunt and experienced “full-out” body aches and headaches that left her unable to get out of bed for four days.

Today, she remains indoors at home despite receiving the green-light from health care providers she no longer has to isolate.

“I don’t feel well enough to go anywhere, and I think I’ll give it time before I go visit my girls,” Cooper said.

She remains thankful to her common-law partner, who cooked meals for her, her son-in-law Bryan Adolph who delivered food, and one of her sisters, who offered some traditional medicine Cooper could use to help boost her immune system.

Cooper said she also was contacted by her nation and asked if she needed supplies.

Praising Tsideldel Chief and Council as well as essential and frontline workers for their countless efforts, Cooper went on to encourage anyone needing assistance to reach out and for everyone do what they can to support one another.

Read More: WLFN chief reports 11 members fully recovered from COVID-19

She agreed there is a lot of stigma surrounding the virus.

“It’s all fear-based,” she said, noting there are many who judge.

“It depends on who you are in the community, and I felt that by coming out and saying you know what I have it, we should all be supporting one another and not judging each other.”

As she slowly regains her strength, she looks forward to helping others who are self-isolating and may need food or traditional medicine.

Cooper said she had recently felt strong enough to make some traditional medicine with juniper and balsam, which she left outside her door for other families.

“It doesn’t have to be big things,” she said. “It can be small things.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusFirst Nations

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

Just Posted

Lake City Secondary School principal Craig Munroe. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
OUR HOMETOWN: Lifelong learning

Lake City Secondary School principal Craig Munroe got his first teaching job in Williams Lake

Mayor Walt Cobb waves from atop a tractor as he turns onto Oliver Street in the Daybreak Rotary’s annual Stampede Parade. Patrick Davies photo.
Lack of funding, volunteers has Daybreak Rotary bowing out of Williams Lake Stampede parade

Club learned this week it won’t be receiving local government funding, for the second year in a row

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Williams Lake’s Brock Hoyer films a segment of the newly-released The Way Home in the city of Revelstoke. (Ryen Dunford photo)
Brock Hoyer stars in new snowbike film: The Way Home

The film is completely free and was released on YouTube on Jan. 22, 2021

The body of Kenneth Seymour Michell was discovered Jan. 14, 2021, behind a Williams Lake business a day after he was released by a judge on conditions. (Photo submitted)
Family looks for answers after Indigenous man dies by suicide following release from custody

System does not care about Indigenous peoples, says First Nations Leadership Council

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

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

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Most Read