Saskatchewan

FSIN calls on province to assist Buffalo River Dene Nation in halting COVID-19 outbreak

"We must come together to ensure our vulnerable community members are safe," said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron.

The northwest zone, where Buffalo River Dene Nation is located, reported 103 active COVID-19 cases Monday

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron speaks with media in April 2019. (Olivier Rouquairol Jodouin/Radio-Canada)

Days after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared at a First Nation in northern Saskatchewan, a federation representing 74 First Nations is calling on the provincial government to do more to help. 

A COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Friday at the Buffalo River Dene Nation by the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Association (NITHA). 

The outbreak was declared as the result of a number of confirmed cases linked to the evacuation of the community due to forest fires in the region, NITHA said. 

Now, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) says the Saskatchewan government and the RCMP need to do more to help contain the spread of the virus. 

"Chief Elmer Campbell and his health staff are running out of options and the death of our most vulnerable could increase unless reinforcements are brought in," said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron in a press release issued Monday afternoon.

The federation says COVID-19 is spreading quickly in the Buffalo River Dene Nation due to the lack of public health orders. 

The provincial government lifted all public COVID-19 restrictions on July 11, which means the RCMP no longer has the ability to ensure that those who test positive are self-isolating. 

NITHA and the Meadow Lake Tribal Council are currently working with the Buffalo River Dene Nation to control the outbreak. 

Meadow Lake Tribal Council Tribal Chief Richard Ben said in a press release they are doing everything they can to support Campbell and his health staff who continue to work around the clock. 

"They need more health support staff and they also need the RCMP to step in to enforce health and safety protocols to ensure gatherings are stopped and COVID-19 is taken seriously," said Ben. 

The FSIN and Meadow Lake Tribal Council are calling on as many people as possible to get vaccinated, wear masks and isolate if they test positive. 

"We understand that many community members are frustrated and facing COVID fatigue but we must come together to ensure our vulnerable community members are safe," said Cameron. 

As of Monday, the province was reporting 103 active cases in its northwest zone, which is where the Buffalo River Dene Nation is located. 

Its not clear how many of those cases are connected to the First Nation,

The northwest zone accounts for 103 of the 356 active cases in the province. 

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