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Alberta's top doctor condemns COVID-19 discrimination against Siksika residents, praising band leaders

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says she was disappointed to hear some Siksika First Nation members are being turned away from local businesses, reminding Albertans that COVID-19 does not discriminate.

Dr. Hinshaw urges compassion after Siksika members turned away from businesses

Alberta's chief medical officer of health said Tuesday that she was disappointed to hear some Siksika people have faced discrimination from local businesses that fear COVID-19 after an outbreak on the First Nation. She praised the Siksika leadership like Chief Ouray Crowfoot, shown here, saying they acted quickly, transparently and proactively to control spread of the virus. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Alberta's chief medical officer of health says she was disappointed to hear some Siksika First Nation members are being turned away from local businesses, reminding Albertans that COVID-19 does not discriminate.

During her daily news briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said now is the time for compassion, not division.

"I have received reports that some Siksika First Nation members were recently denied access to local businesses as a result of recent cases being reported in their community," Hinshaw said.

"This is not the first time that we've heard such reports around COVID-19. I know that Albertans of Chinese or other ethnic heritage and some religious groups have also at times been singled out and discriminated against."

The Siksika First Nation instituted a curfew in early July after after 10 active cases of COVID-19 were confirmed and 258 people being tested for the virus. 

As of Monday, the band council accounced on Twitter that the First Nation now had more recovered than active cases, with 17 recovered and nine active cases after conducting 2,577 tests. The council thanked the Siksika people for their diligence following public health measures to contain the coronavirus including physical distancing, getting tested and staying home.

Hinshaw echoed that Tuesday, saying the Siksika leadership had acted quickly, transparently and proactively to control spread of the virus.

Siksika residents facing COVID-19 discrimination after outbreak, says Alberta's chief medical officer of health

1 year ago
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Dr. Deena Hinshaw says she was disappointed to hear some Siksika First Nation members are being turned away from local businesses, reminding Albertans that COVID-19 does not discriminate. 1:35

"When the result of that prompt and transparent action is stigma against their members, it sends a message against transparency and risks discouraging people from being tested or co-operating with public health," she said.

"The members of the Siksika Nation deserve better than that. All Albertans of every heritage deserve better than that."

The band later tweeted thanks to Hinshaw through its @Siksika_Nation Twitter account: "Thank you @CMOH_Alberta for advocating for Siksikawa today. We will fight stigma with kindness. We continue to proactively respond to COVID-19 in our community while showing compassion to those surrounding communities. #SiksikaStrong."

Hinshaw was also asked about recent COVID-19 infection spikes in Saskatchewan and B.C, and took the opportunity to urge people not to single out specific groups.

Hinshaw was asked about a spike in infections involving Saskatchewan Hutterite colonies.

"It is critical that we not single out any one particular segment of society but rather understand that we all need to be working together to follow the public health guidance to stop transmission."

Two deaths from COVID-19 were reported Tuesday, both in the Edmonton region: a woman in her 90s, linked to Misericordia Hospital outbreak, and a woman in her 80s, linked to the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre. 

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