Grand Council Treaty #3 Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh is asking residents across the region to abide by Ontario’s stay-at-home orders and COVID-19 lockdown, in light of increasing cases in the region and the province.

“We all must spend as much time at home as possible because of the danger COVID-19 poses to the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3. We have been lucky so far, but the rising case count in both the Kenora and Fort Frances regions places us all at risk,” said Kavanaugh.

As of January 18, the Northwestern Health Unit is reporting a total of 238 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 18 of them are considered active. They include 2 in the Kenora region and 16 in the Rainy River district.

“There are too many unknowns for any of the risks associated with gatherings or activities to be worthwhile. To reduce the number of unknowns I ask that people keep track of where they go and for anyone feeling unwell to seek testing.”

Ontario’s stay-at-home orders require all residents to stay home unless for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or the pharmacy, accessing health care, exercise or for essential work. It will remain in effect until February 11, at the earliest.

“Our region has very limited health care facilities and we must remember that Winnipeg and the rest of Manitoba may not be available to us in an emergency. Thunder Bay and the rest of Ontario is similarly becoming overloaded.”

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is reported a total of 732 cases, with 631 considered resolved, 26 deaths and 75 active cases. The province of Manitoba has seen over 27,500 cases.

“If COVID-19 is allowed to become widespread, there is severe risk to our communities. The health and wellbeing of our loved ones and our knowledge keepers must be our top priority.”

“I want to assure citizens that leadership is doing what they can to contain the spread and plan a vaccine rollout, but in the meantime we all must do our part,” adds Kavanaugh.

The Northwestern Health Unit says they expect their first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in early February, and the first doses will go those residents, caregivers and staff of long-term care homes.

Ontario says those in remote, isolated Indigenous communities can also expect doses in the first phase of the rollout.

“We have all come this far and have lived nearly an entire year under some form of lockdown. We are certainly capable of living another month or two where we decide to make the best decision we can for our people: to stay home,” notes Kavanaugh.

Phase two of plan is expected to include older adults, individuals living or working in high-risk congregate settings, frontline essential workers and individuals with high-risk conditions and their caregivers, and Ontario says phase two is expected in the spring.

The third phase of the vaccine rollout will be the remainder of the population, and Ontario’s goal is to begin vaccinating low-risk individuals in early summer.

“I wish everyone good health and remind you all that you are loved and valued during these difficult times,” finishes Kavanaugh.

Anyone who has symptoms, or who has been in contact with a positive case, should self-isolate and get tested and remain in isolation until your results are known. 

For more information:
NWO to receive COVID-19 vaccine in early February
Contact tracing underway in Wauzhuhsk Onigum