Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars delivered a heartfelt opening before providing the latest COVID-19 update to his community members as they deal with the highly contagious virus and the loss of a member.
“It’s very challenging times right now for leadership and the community,” Sellars said Friday, Jan. 15, after a moment of silence was held for Byron Louie, who passed away Jan. 14.
“Everyone grieves in their own way, and in First Nations communities, we grieve in a way that brings us together with hugs and sharing stories,” he said.
“Having an outbreak in community and trying to find a way around that is difficult, so our condolences out to the family and community as they work through this and grieve in their own way.”
As of 4 p.m. Jan. 15, Sellars said there had been 29 confirmed COVID-19 cases at Sugar Cane.
We are deeply saddened to announce the tragic passing of our beloved WLFN team and community member, Byron…
He outlined several mental health supports for members to reach out to, including the Three Corners Nursing Line, First Nations Health Authority E-Health and Virtual Health Services, KUU-US Crisis Line and Interior Health Authority Crisis Line Network.
WLFN cultural co-ordinator David Archie is also available to provide traditional Indigenous medicines and a listening ear.
“One thing that we need to realize is people, as human-beings, non-First Nations or First Nations, we all grieve in our own way,” he said.
“One thing that I’ve learned over the years it’s OK to cry, it’s OK to show that emotion … Get it out because you feel immediately better afterward.”
Calling it not a time to be proud, but a time to be forgiving, sincere and loving, Sellars added the Red Cross 21 Days of Hope Activity Guide, which promotes connections, culture and respect, is available on their Facebook page for families.
The WLFN COVID Line is also available for members needing help in any way, including groceries, medicine and or firewood.
Sellars said WLFN continues to look at additional in-community isolation units after their emergency operations centre was able to furnish two vacant duplexes on Old Road with furniture, groceries and six beds.
Plans are in motion for the delivery and distribution next week of 25 Moderna vaccines for WLFN elders after a commitment from Interior Health.
“We also have a commitment for that vaccinations to come in every single week, whatever we can, and we’re very thankful to IH,” Sellars said.