On Friday, March 13, 2020, we held an emergency meeting with our Executive, Chiefs, and Directors on how to support our communities once we had received word that a presumptive case of COVID-19 was in one of our communities.
At that time, we activated our Pandemic Planning Committee, which is led by key staff, including our Executive, Emergency Management, Communications, Health, Urban Services, Human Resources, and Finance.
We are all meeting on a regular basis to discuss your needs and concerns. In terms of COVID-19 and its related testing, treatment, and preventative issues and measures, we are taking direction from our 12 Chiefs, Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority, Saskatchewan Health Authority, and Canadian Public Safety Agency.
Throughout our communities, our First Nations are in the process of declaring states of emergencies, so they can access additional support and resources. Some have already done so.
We are currently working with suppliers and distributors to ensure that our communities, especially those in our northern areas, have access to needed food, medical equipment, and cleaning supplies. In addition, we are also in the process of working with the Canadian Red Cross to access additional relief services for our First Nation members living both on- and off-reserve.
Urban Services have been receiving donations to help support our Elders and vulnerable families living in Prince Albert. Staff have been working diligently to provide them with a care package. The Elders received moose meat and fish.
So far, we have reached out to over 300 homes, delivering packages to 112 Elders and about 850 individuals at large.
We are all taking this seriously.
“To flatten the curve” and “slow the spread,” we need to do our part to support the work of our health staff and emergency coordinators. It is absolutely critical that we practice physical distancing, and wash our hands regularly, especially after touching any object. Avoid hugging or shaking hands. Try not use cash and if you do, disinfect your hand immediately. Another recommendation by health authorities is to avoid touching your face until you have clean hands.
Please understand understand that there is no vaccine for this disease. Even if you may recover, it is very difficult for our Elders and those with poor immune systems. Even if you may feel you are okay, think about them.
On a gentler note, I want to ask you to try to make the most of this family time. Try not to let the kids watch TV or play video games. Spend quality time with them. Share stories about long ago. Sing songs from back in the day. Cook together. Learn a traditional craft or skill. Learn about Indigenous rights, self-determination, and sovereignty. These are just some things that we can do to make the most out of these difficult and trying times.
You may also want to join our Facebook page for updates and announcements.
It is a difficult time, my friends. We are not forgetting about you. I give thanks to the Creator today. Thank you and be well.
Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte
Prince Albert Grand Council
Vice Chief Joseph Tsannie, PAGC
Vice Chief Christopher Jobb, PAGC
Al Ducharme, Executive Director, PAGC