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Cree community of Waswanipi establishes checkpoint

The Northern Quebec community of Waswanipi set up a checkpoint Wednesday to monitor who is coming in and out of the community, encourage people to stick close to home and to share public health information about COVID-19.

Measure to monitor movement and pass on public health information amid Coronavirus outbreak in the South

"Some people don't believe in this. I think we have to put everybody in the same boat and focus on prevention measures," said Bobby Blacksmith, public safety officer in the community of 2,000. (submitted by Monic Saganash)

A Cree community in Northern Quebec has set up a checkpoint to monitor who is coming in and out and as a way to share public health information about COVID-19.

The checkpoint went up at 8 o'clock Wednesday morning in Waswanipi, a community located 730 km north of Montreal.

"We just want to know how many people are coming in and how many people are going out," said Bobby Blacksmith, the local public safety officer for the community of 2,000.

He said the goal is to keep track of the movements of the population and to know where non-residents have come from.

Local officials also put the measure in place because they were noticing some residents weren't taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously, according to Blacksmith. 

Some people are still going to ... Ottawa and Montreal.- Michel Awashish, Waswanipi checkpoint coordinator

"Some people don't believe in this. I think we have to put everybody in the same boat and focus on prevention measures," He said. 

As of Wednesday, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Cree territory.

Handing out public health information

Michel Awashish is working with Public Safety department in Waswanipi, a community of 2,000 people, located about 730 kilometres north of Montreal. (submitted by Michel Awashish)

The checkpoint will be in place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Workers are also handing out public health brochures about how Coronavirus is transmitted and the importance of washing hands for more than 20 seconds with soap and water and keeping your hands away from your face. 

Travellers are also being asked to keep away from larger centres and get their supplies closer to home in places like Chibougamau and Val d'Or, according to Michel Awashish, who is helping public safety in the community.

"We've noticed that some people are still going to places like Ottawa and Montreal," said Awashish. "That's why the Chief and council felt that it was necessary to put up a checkpoint." 

He said people are reacting well to the added measure, so far. 

"They're happy that something has been done," said Awashish. "I think people are starting to feel reassured."

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