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'Protect our elders': Six Nations building barricades to block outsiders amid COVID-19

The Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council plans to build and install barricades to block people who aren't part of the community from entering its territory and spreading COVID-19.

'Our focus is to restrict outside visitors from bringing COVID-19 into our community'

Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Chief Mark Hill, right, said the barricades should be in place Tuesday. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

The Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council plans to build and install barricades to block people who aren't part of the community from entering its territory and spreading COVID-19.

The effort is called "Project Protect Our Elders," explained Chief Mark Hill during a radio address Friday afternoon.

"The plan will involve restricting the flow of people in and out of Six Nations territory," He said. "Our focus is to restrict outside visitors from bringing COVID-19 into our community."

Six Nations members will still be able to leave the territory for essential services, according to the chief.

Hill said training and preparations for the project will happen Saturday and Sunday.

Construction of the barricades is scheduled to begin Monday and on Tuesday "the barricades will be full implementation."

It wasn't immediately clear from the chief's update what the barricades will look like or where they will be set up.

He only said further updates will be provided in the coming days.

A statement from the elected council said people who are not from Six Nations will need to show their employee badges to enter the community.

Deliveries of essential items such as groceries and online shopping will also continue.

To date there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Six Nations.

A firefighter who was tested for the new coronavirus found out they did not have it earlier this week. Eleven other firefighters who were in isolation as a precaution have since returned to work.

Fire and Emergency Services Chief Matthew Miller remains in isolation, awaiting the results of his own test.

Six Nations declared a community emergency on March 13 and the elected council is working with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council to respond to COVID-19 by closing non-essential services, schools and directing staff to work from home.

Hill said the decision to restrict access was not taken lightly, adding council voted unanimously in favour of "taking the next step" in its response to the virus.

Council has been monitoring the situation around the world and worked with police and other community organizations to develop its plan.

"Given the increasingly dire impact on countries and peoples around the world we feel confident in our next step," said Hill.

"[It's about] protecting the community, especially our elders, our knowledge-keepers, our legacy from the rapidly-spreading and deadly COVID-19 virus."

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