Heiltsuk Nation Confirms COVID-19 Cases in Bella Bella; Calls on Ministry of Health to Provide Overdue Information Sharing and Resources
BELLA BELLA, HEILTSUK TERRITORY – (September 14, 2020) – The Heiltsuk Nation, which has been an outspoken leader in asking the BC government to do more to protect Indigenous communities from the spread of COVID-19, has confirmed two positive cases in Bella Bella.
In the wake of the positive tests, community members are supporting one another with compassion and strength, and showing what it looks like to destigmatize the virus.
“Our people have worked so hard to prevent COVID from entering our community, but it’s here now,” said Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation. “This is deeply upsetting and worrying, and our thoughts and prayers are with our members and their families. These positive cases show the risks of keeping Indigenous communities in the dark.”
Throughout the pandemic, the Heiltsuk have continually requested the Ministry of Health to provide four safety measures: proximate case information sharing, contact tracing, screening, and rapid testing. Unfortunately, the Ministry has been slow to act and is still refusing to share proximate case information. With cases now confirmed in the community, the nation needs BC’s partnership with Heiltsuk to provide culturally-safe contact tracing on an urgent basis.
“COVID-19 has laid bare the social injustices and shortcomings of the healthcare system,” said Megan Humchitt, Heiltsuk Councillor. “It is obvious that we are still functioning under a colonial system to the detriment of the health and safety of our community. We are a self-determining nation and we need to be treated as such. The Ministry’s ongoing refusal to share proximate case information and resources for contact tracing is putting Indigenous lives at risk.”
Heiltsuk has joined with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and Tsilhqot’in National Government to request the four safety measures, and they are now preparing to escalate their efforts to receive the proximate case information they have been requesting since the pandemic began.
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