Thunder Bay

Fort William First Nation closes to non-residents, orders closure of businesses starting Friday

Both the Chief and CEO of Fort William First Nation (FWFN) announced new COVID-19 plans for their community on Tuesday, placing new restrictions on non-residents and retail businesses.

Fort William First Nation leaders to implement new COVID-19 orders, effective Friday, for the next two weeks

Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins says his community will go into a lockdown, restricting movement into the community, as of Friday April 10 at 6 p.m. (Heather Kitching / CBC)

Both the Chief and CEO of Fort William First Nation (FWFN) announced new COVID-19 plans for their community on Tuesday, placing new restrictions on non-residents and retail businesses.

"Starting April 10, 2020 at 6 p.m. Fort William First Nation territory will be shut down to all non-residents," said FWFN Chief Peter Collins in a Facebook live stream on Tuesday.

Collins added that essential service workers will be allowed to enter and leave FWFN, but must be identified by an employer. He added that criteria is currently being drafted by council for people looking to enter the area.

Collins said residents should only leave FWFN for essential medical services, and should limit social interaction.

"Fort William members and residents are strongly encouraged to avoid leaving First William First Nation Territory," he said. "Keep your social interactions with those who only reside in your residence and try to connect family and friends in other ways and other means."

All FWFN retail outlets will also be required to close on Friday. This motion, along with others, will be reviewed and assessed in two weeks.

"All retail outlets will also be required to close on this effective date. The Mission Road security checkpoints will be moved to Bannon's Gas Bar and the intersection at Mountain Road and also Chippewa Road," Collins said.

While these decisions made by FWFN council were unanimous, Collins said implementing these changes was a difficult thing to do.

"As we see the numbers grow in Ontario, as we see the numbers grow in Thunder Bay District it's a very challenging time for us," he said, adding that it's a very "emotional" time for leaders.

Michael Pelletier, Chief Executive Officer of FWFN, said administration has been implementing their emergency response and pandemic plans, which has initiated meetings between the community control group and pandemic planning group.

Pelletier added that a number of programs, such as a food distribution program, are currently being prioritized to serve members on and off of the reserve.

"We are getting new emergency funding every week which is opening up a little bit, so we are looking at our off reserve members outside of Thunder Bay in some sort of assistance," Pelletier said.

As of April 8, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at FWFN.

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