Fort Liard hamlet and First Nation at odds over COVID-19 communication
Acho Dene Koe and hamlet say other side isn't communicating pandemic response plans
The mayor in Fort Liard, N.W.T., and the band manager of the community's First Nation both say that the other side is failing to communicate in the middle of a pandemic.
"There's really no communication ... which is really frustrating because in an emergency response plan, the leadership need to be communicating," said Mayor Hillary Deneron, adding that the hamlet has reached out to the First Nation and not received a response.
Deneron said the hamlet has made an emergency response plan that includes input from the nursing station, RCMP, and fire chief.
"We have a plan, but I don't think [the First Nation is] aware that they're part of the plan," she said.
Acho Dene Koe First Nation band manager Boyd Clark, however, told CBC that since the first day the pandemic was announced, the First Nation has asked for the hamlet's plan, and still has not received it.
Clark added that the First Nation provides public updates almost daily online, and that they "have yet to get anything from the hamlet."
In the 500-person community, which has one health centre staffed only with nurses, the stakes will be high to successfully fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clark also noted that Acho Dene Koe recently budgeted $20,000 to help the hamlet with emergency preparedness.
In an information release Tuesday, Acho Dene Koe announced that funding, as part of a $528,140 budget to help its members get through the pandemic. An additional $100,000 was soon added to the pandemic budget thanks to additional funding from corporate relationships, Clark explained on Thursday.
The release says the First Nation is putting $340,000 to use on initial support.
Along with the money for the hamlet, that support includes on-the-land funding, food and cleaning supplies for First Nation members, and funding for distance learning so students out of school can learn online.
Clark said the First Nation anticipates some funding will come through from the federal and territorial governments, but is fronting the money so that it doesn't have to wait to get started.
Meanwhile, the hamlet's mayor says her administration is focusing on paring things down to avoid burnout. It's only providing essential services to the community, including water, sewer, garbage pickup, and road maintenance.
"We always have like a plan B to fall back on, in case one of our workers catch a common cold or are just tired," said Deneron. "We are always on the lookout."