by Jaiden Sandberg
August 22, 2020
Winnipeg, MB Treaty 1 Territory – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee and Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas called upon the Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin to work with First Nations leadership to reintroduce the Order Prohibiting Travel to Northern Manitoba under the Public Health Act.
“Our Chiefs have taken every precaution to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their community members, and we are calling on the Manitoba government to work with First Nations leadership to reinstate the Order prohibiting travel to northern Manitoba” declared MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “The call to reinstate the northern travel order is a proactive measure by First Nations leadership to reduce and minimize risk the spread of COVID-19 as access to primary health care is not comparable to our neighbours in the south” stated Grand Chief Settee.
“By imposing travel restrictions, we want to collaborate with the province in establishing criteria for exemptions to the Order. Our First Nations are currently undertaking vital community housing and infrastructure projects with companies classified as essential service providers. However, these services must be consistent with pandemic planning protocols established by our First Nations to ensure that the work is conducted in the safest manner possible” stated AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas.
“We must be mindful to not place restrictions on educators returning to our northern schools” continued Grand Chief Settee. “As an educator, I value the role of our educators and view them as performing an essential service for our students, families and communities. By working collaboratively with the provincial government in re-establishing the northern travel order, we can find common ground to ensure the continuation of necessary activities in our communities while ensuring the protection of our peoples by limiting the exposure to COVID-19” said Grand Chief Settee.
When the northern travel order was first introduced on April 16, 2020 by the Dr. Brent Roussin, it was welcomed and supported by the northern First Nations leadership who also closed their community borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within their territories. During the closure, travel was limited to essential workers and the Province saw limited COVID cases in the north and zero First Nations cases on reserve. The original order prohibiting travel to Northern Manitoba ended on June 26, 2020.
“I have seen firsthand the dedication of our Chiefs in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. If we are provided the necessary platform to bring solutions forward that work for our communities, I believe we can work in a proactive way that will be of mutual benefit to our First Nations and all Manitobans” concluded Grand Chief Dumas.
For more information:
MKO- Brennan Manoakeesick
AMC- Stacia Franz