With 280 members now vaccinated for COVID-19 and currently no active cases in the community, things are looking up for Tl’etinqox [Anaham] First Nation.
“As of yesterday [Wednesday, Feb. 10] we are down to zero cases in our community,” said Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse.
“That is from a high of 51 cases. We lost one elder due to COVID and we have one more elder in very critical condition on life support and we continue to send out prayers to her.”
Alphonse said his community got off to a rough start in January not adhering to COVID-19 restrictions by gathering and having “parties,” but quickly buckled down following public pressure and did what was needed to stop the spread of the virus.
The chief credits the good work of the community, along with Tl’etinqox’s security team and a partnership with the Alexis Creek RCMP for their successful outcome.
The community is excited to be finished with their lock down, which lifts at midnight Thursday, Feb 11, 2021, he said.
“Our community is relieved, because we are afraid of COVID. But we are still asking our members to be vigilant and not gather. The vaccine isn’t bomb-proof, especially with all these variants out there.”
Since the pandemic, Alphonse said his team has also worked closely with the Ministry of Children and Families to support the small number of children in care or at risk in the community. Weekly cultural nights where the community hosts foster children and their caregivers, have had to be temporarily suspended because of COVID-19 but the chief hopes that important work can be re-established once things return to normal.
“I think we’re on the right track. Our team is doing good work,” he said, noting his government operates at a “bare bones” level due to inadequate funding, when compared to municipal, provincial and federal governments, to offer all the services needed.
As far as noticing an increase in social issues since the pandemic, Alphonse said he’s actually witnessed fewer problems, which he directly attributed to a lack of access to alcohol.
“It’s my belief that alcohol should not be sold in rural areas near First Nations communities,” Alphonse said. “We don’t need it. That’s the root of a lot of our problems. To be honest, when there isn’t alcohol we don’t see a lot of issues.”
Alphonse said he, like everyone else, hopes to see the end of the pandemic sooner rather than later, but in the meantime encourages everyone to work together and remain vigilant.