(Treaty 6 Territory, Saskatoon SK) – The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Executive says a case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Saskatchewan’s most isolated communities yesterday. Together with Fond du Lac and Black Lake First Nations, we are demanding the Provincial Government, Saskatchewan and Athabasca Health Authorities immediately put better measures in place for health care staff servicing First Nations and supply the Far North communities with more PPE for community members and front-line health staff.
“We have done all that we can do at the First Nations level to keep our people safe, including putting self-isolation measures on those flying or driving into our communities. However, the Provincial Government’s health care employees are not abiding by those measures,”
says Fond du Lac First Nation Chief Louie Mercredi. “A nurse drove up to Stoney Rapids on Sunday and by Monday, was treating a number of our long-term care, elderly and vulnerable members at the hospital. We are demanding that more PPE immediately be shipped to our communities to protect our people.
“This infection was caused by provincial health care staff that were not tested before coming into our nations, they must ensure that our people are protected at all costs, as they will be held liable if this infection is not contained and continues to spread.”
“We have more questions than answers and my community members are scared. We are being told this nurse was working in Saskatoon prior to coming North. Why wasn’t this nurse tested before they were exposed to our patients?” says Black Lake First Nation Chief Coreen Sayazie.
“We now have 4 – 5 patients in our long-term care and palliative care in isolation awaiting test results. If this worsens or spreads in our communities, we, the Dene people of the Far North, will hold the Provincial Government responsible and will seek legal action. They should have done better.
“This is now another case of a provincial health care nurse bringing Covid-19 into our First Nations. Southend should have been the example that the Province and Saskatchewan Health Authority learned from.”
“This is reason we have been demanding that medical training facilities and educational opportunities be offered in our First Nations communities for years” says FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt. “We need to train our own First Nations students to become nurses and doctors within our own communities, so that when these pandemics or health care problems surface, we don’t need to bring outside staff into our nations, potentially infecting our most vulnerable.”
“We must be at the table with Premier Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan Health Authority to come up with ways of working to fight this pandemic together” says FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron. “We are a part of Saskatchewan. We contribute millions to the economy every year, but we are not at these meetings. We must work together to stop the spread of Covid-19 and flatten the curve.”
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. The Federation is committed to honouring the spirit and intent of the Treaties, as well as the promotion, protection and implementation of the Treaty promises that were made more than a century ago.