Edmonton

Enoch Cree Nation shuts down non-essential services to get ahead of rising COVID-19 cases

Enoch Cree Nation is limiting operations to essential services only in an effort to get ahead of a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in the community. 

Kindergarten to Grade 12 classes will move online for two weeks

Enoch Cree Nation students will move to online learning for two weeks as the nation begins a two-week shutdown of all non-essential services in an attempt to get ahead of growing COVID-19 cases. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Enoch Cree Nation is limiting operations to essential services only in an effort to get ahead of a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in the community. 

The nation, west of Edmonton, announced a plan to close non-essential services for 14 days on on Wednesday, after seeing a sudden spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Colleen McDonald, the nation's executive director for health services, said it's a precautionary measure in hopes of preventing variant strains of coronavirus from spreading throughout the community..

"This is an opportunity for Enoch Cree Nation to be proactive. We know that a number of our brothers and sisters from across Turtle Island and beyond have been exposed to the variant in other First Nations communities. We've seen how it sweeps right through the nation, and it's causing a lot of strain and stress on livelihoods," she said. 

Turtle Island is what some Indigenous people call the continent of North America, while others use it to refer to the whole world.

McDonald said that after being at zero cases for weeks, as of Wednesday afternoon there were seven on-reserve confirmed cases of COVID-19, and that there are also cases among nation members who live off-reserve in the Edmonton area. She said they are waiting to find out if any of those cases are variant strains of coronavirus.

McDonald said it's not a full lockdown but they are closing anything that isn't essential.

She said health services like the food bank and social supports will still operate. Schools will move to online learning, and many nation staff will be asked to work from home. She said she knows that pandemic fatigue has set in, but she's asking people — both in her community and beyond — to keep their guard up.

"We have to be diligent when it comes to public health and safety measures. They're put there for a reason. They're not there to control us, they're actually there to protect us and to protect others," she said.

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