Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse confirmed Tuesday there has been COVID-19 exposure in his community. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Northern B.C. First Nation told to isolate after released inmate with COVID-19 visited

Chief Joe Alphonse asks residents of rural community to stay within their homes and self-isolate

A released inmate who stopped in to visit family at Tl’etinqox (Anaham) First Nation west of Williams Lake after leaving a Lower Mainland institution has tested positive for COVID-19.

Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse is urging all of his 700 on-reserve members to isolate with their immediate families as they wait out the incubation period of the virus and determine the impacts of the approximately two-hour contact.

“Unfortunately this is our reality. It’s here. We are not immune. I urge all our First Nations leaders to take all steps necessary to protect your communities. If you’re doing it to protect your families, then you’re doing the right thing,” Alphonse said Tuesday evening (April 21).

Alphonse said the exposure came five days ago when the released inmate, who was not showing any symptoms and still hasn’t, stopped in the community to visit an ill family member on his way to a half way house in Prince George. A volunteer transported the man and has also been tested and is awaiting results.

READ MORE: Remote B.C. First Nation confirms positive COVID-19 case

The community was notified by representatives of the Northern Health Authority, who have done contact tracing.

Alphonse is questioning how an inmate with COVID-19 could possibly have been released and allowed into communities without any government oversight.

“You would have thought the institution would have tested him. That’s pretty alarming.”

Alphonse is asking residents to “stay home as much as you can, for as long as you can” during the pandemic.

“We’re asking all family members to stay within their homes,” Alphonse said. “It’s gotten really real and we all have to assume we have it for the community’s safety.”

Alphonse said there are many families who are upset by the news and are heeding the warning, but there are also some community members who are not taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously, mainly youth and those with addictions, Alphonse said.

He is also finding since many larger centres are restrictive, such as nearby Williams Lake, Tl’etinqox members are returning to the community to carry on with their addictions.

“It’s scary. As a politician you hope that all your people will listen to you but that’s not reality.”

Alphonse has shut down all roads except the main entrance to the community and is putting security in place this week to man the only entrance to monitor who is coming in, where they are going, what they are doing and if they are sick.

Seeing the suffering that COVID-19 has inflicted around world, and looking back at their history with the Spanish flu and small pox, Alphonse said you can’t help but be afraid knowing it’s here.

“You’d be a fool not to be afraid.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusIndigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Young Abbotsford cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. families financially affected by pandemic eligible for grocery gift cards

Program open to struggling families in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley communities

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

COLUMN: We don’t need an election. But it’s 2020, so we’ll probably get one anyways.

There are only selfish reasons for the NDP to trigger an election this fall

Say ‘Hi’ to the mountains (and rain): The smoke is gone from the Fraser Valley, for now

Saturday’s Fraser Valley air quality forecast at ‘moderate risk,’ but morning showers leave skies clear

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

VIDEO: Shots fired outside Langley gas station that was scene of 2018 homicide

No reports of injuries in Saturday evening incident

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Most Read