Fishing Lake provides community with emergency care packages
- EFN Staff | March 19, 2020
As Saskatchewanians set into a slight panic amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide pandemic, many are clearing the shelves at their local shopping, grocery and convenience stores. People are stocking up on toilet paper, cleaning supplies, sanitizers and pretty much anything they can get their hands on.
But not all consumers are hoarding and stocking up on supplies, many communities have been buying items in bulk to distribute to their community members.
In Fishing Lake First Nation, the leadership took upon themselves to create care packages.
Emily Sabit the Brighter Futures Coordinator in Fishing Lake was part of the planning committee to distribute the community care packages. She said they gathered over 190 community care packages.
“Our frontline staff workers decided that we would do something for our community,” she said. “The funding came from Communicable Disease Emergency Program.”
Sabit and the team of workers shopped in Regina and Yorkton to gather the much-needed supplies. She recalled seeing the stares from other shoppers and she knew what they were thinking.
“We kind of noticed the looks on some people,” she said. “I noticed some [Facebook] posts, people were writing about others buying in bulk. I could see how people could think that of us.”
Larry Kayseas who is one of the band councillors in Fishing Lake said the leadership is also providing other means of help to feed their community members.
“We have a wildlife program and we support our hunters. We give them gas to help,” he said. “The hunters hunt moose, jumpers, rabbit, fish and everything. We take the [meat] to a butcher to get it prepared, cut and wrapped.”
Other Indigenous communities across the province are providing their community members with emergency care packages as well. Sturgeon Lake First Nation Chief Greg Ermine said they decided to take action on Monday, March 16, 2020 to help their members during this pandemic.
“The cleaning supplies will be distributed once its all assembled and the food supplies will be distributed if and when confirmed cases of COVID-19 have reported on reserve,” he said.
Their emergency care packages are split into two piles. One package contains dry goods and canned foods and the other package contains cleaning supplies such as disinfectants, tissue and paper towels.
Chief Ermine added they are restricting access to their offices and strongly encouraging social distancing as much as possible.
“We have implemented travel restrictions, large gatherings within households are discouraged, ensuring vulnerable people are closely monitored and extra precautionary measure are taken,” he stated. “We want to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our beautiful community.”
Although some Indigenous communities are taking action on serving their community during this pandemic time, there are others that don’t have that luxury to buy emergency care packages.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) released a statement on March 18th following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s COVID-19 pandemic funding announcements.
“Our First Nations need clarity when it comes to what funding is coming to our region and when it will begin to flow to our nations and we are running out of time to stay ahead of this pandemic,” stated FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron. “Some of our nations can afford to get supplies and medicines to their people and await reimbursement from the Federal Government. But there are also many communities that don’t have this luxury and are continuing to wait for the funding necessary to get needed supplies and groceries to their most vulnerable. The Medicine Chest Clause was written into our Treaties for this very situation and we are demanding that these funds go immediately to the nations that are still waiting in limbo.”
The federal government announced a COVID-19 pandemic $82-billion emergency response package where $305 million for a new Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities.