Łutsël K'é business corporation providing food, money to community amid COVID-19 concerns

The Denesoline Corporation has notified people in Łutsël K'é, N.W.T, that it will be providing each household in the community with a food hamper and $250.

'We want to make sure our people are going to have subsistence during this time'

The Denesoline Corporation, the independent corporate arm of the Łutsël K'é Dene First Nation, is helping people get through the COVID-19 pandemic by contributing food and money. (Emily Blake/CBC)

People in  Łutsël K'é, N.W.T., won't have to wait for federal support amid the COVID-19 crisis to trickle down to them. The development arm of the Łutsël K'é Dene First Nation is dipping into its own profits to help people get through the pandemic.

On Wednesday, the Denesoline Corporation notified people in the community that it will be providing each household with a food hamper and $250.

"These communities can be a little bit more vulnerable because you've got people who are over 60 years old, sometimes not in very good health," said Ron Barlas, the corporation's chief executive officer.

"We want to make sure our people are going to have subsistence during this time and that's why we're doing everything that we can do."

Barlas said the food and cheques will be delivered on a charter aircraft that's scheduled to arrive in the fly-in-only community on Great Slave Lake shortly before noon on Saturday. 

Though the Denesoline Corporation is owned by the people of Łutsël K'é, it is one of the few N.W.T. Indigenous development corporations that operates independently of the band council and administration.

Some Indigenous people in the territory say they're planning to wait out the COVID-19 pandemic on the land — something recommended by Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya. Barlas said he's hoping the corporation's contribution will help make that an option for people in Łutsël K'é.

"We are trying to provide them the food and also a little bit of money to get some gas and supplies so that if they do wish to retreat and go out on the land, they are going to have a means of subsistence."

Barlas said the contribution is over and above the food hampers the corporation provides to households three times each year. The food, money and cost of the charter is coming out of the corporation's business profits.