Covid-19 cases rising on First Nations across Canada – particularly in Alberta

by Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – The second wave of COVID is happening as this is being written, with Alberta continuously breaking records. On Oct. 1, the province reported 140 new cases of the illness, and the total number of active cases was 1,546.

Less than three weeks later, on Oct. 21, the province registered a record 427 new cases, and active cases had more than doubled to a record 3,519.

In Alberta’s Nov. 6 update, there were 6,822 cases in the province. However, in the Nov. 8 update, there were some technical issues which means that there is very little information as to where the province sits right now in regards to COVID-19.

Premier Jason Kenney said of the surge, “I think it’s important to acknowledge that the virus is here to stay,” while self-isolating at home after one of his cabinet members tested positive for the virus. “And unless or until there is widespread immunity either through natural infection or through the widespread use of a vaccine, we have to cope with it and we have to carry on with life.”

As for the First Nations in the province, many of them are identifying active cases within their Nations.

Siksika First Nation

 On Nov. 2, the Siksika Nation announced that – despite having 0 active cases a week before – there were 13 confirmed cases, with 11 of them being on reserve.

In response to the outbreak, Siksika is closing all of its schools and its homeless shelter, after cases jumped from zero to more than a dozen in just a few days.

Lenora Rabbit Carrier, superintendent of Siksika Board of Education, wrote in a letter to parents and guardians informing them of the cancellations.

“If you have been contacted by Siksika’s CDC team, please listen to them — they are here to help you, support you and help contain the spread of COVID-19 within the community. If the community health nurses ask you to isolate yourself or the household, please listen to them,” she wrote.

Saddle Lake Cree Nation

In a Nov. 6 update, Saddle Lake Cree Nation announced that there were 47 active cases, with one of them in the hospital. The Cree Nation has completed 2,590 tests from Sept 7 to Nov 6.

Paul First Nation

On Nov. 5, the Paul First Nation announced their first positive case of COVID. Close contacts have been notified of the case and are acting accordingly.

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation

On Oct. 24, Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation (ANS) announced in a statement that a positive case of COVID was identified within the nation. The specific member went into isolation and did not show any symptoms. All close contacts have been notified and are also in self-isolation.

In response to the active case, the Nation closed all departments, cancelled any scheduled meetings and events for 7 days, with plans to reopen on Monday Nov. 2.

Another positive case of COVID-19 has also been  identified on the Nation, however, the infected persons does not live within the band but they do work in ANS Nation.

Chief Tony Alexis said, “We have seen now in Alexis, there is no avoiding it, we are in the second wave of this dangerous virus.”

There have been 1,073 tests completed in Alexis since March 2020. From October 26 to 28 there were 89.

Across Canada

On First Nations across Canada, as of November 5, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is aware of:

  • 1,728 confirmed positive COVID-19
  • 542 active cases
  • 94 hospitalizations
  • 1,171 recovered cases
  • 15 deaths

  First Nations case numbers per region:

  • British Columbia: 182
  • Alberta: 498
  • Saskatchewan: 378
  • Manitoba: 411
  • Ontario: 160
  • Quebec: 99

For information about funding and resources available from the federal government, visit Indigenous Services Canada.


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