Canim Lake Band remains in lockdown. (Martina Dopf photo)

Canim Lake Band remains in lockdown. (Martina Dopf photo)

Canim Lake Band grieves loss of second Elder due to COVID-19

Elder, who lived away from home, was ‘matriarch, a fierce protector’, Chief says.

The Tsq’escen’emc (Canim Lake Band) is asking for prayers following the death of another Elder due to COVID-19.

Chief Helen Henderson said the Elder, who lived away from home, was “a matriarch, a fierce protector, a mother, grandmother and aunt.

“The family is deep in grief and we are wrapping supports around them through these difficult times,” she said in an email. “Our community asks for prayers as we grieve and continue to fight this virus.”

The Canim Lake Band, located about 40 kilometres east of 100 Mile House, was devastated last week after losing its first Elder to COVID-19. The community, which has been in lockdown since Jan. 8, has altogether recorded 65 positive cases of the coronavirus. Twenty-five of those have recovered, Henderson said, while 11 people remain in hospital or community cohort centres.

Henderson said earlier this week the community remains in lockdown to wait out the vaccine period, after the Moderna vaccine was rolled out to the community on Jan. 14.

“We can tell that what we are doing is working because we are seeing the number of infections slowing down and we’re starting to hold steady with case numbers,” said Canim Lake Emergency Operations Incident commander Don Dixon.

Those who have recovered have been able to step back into their respective roles and assist in the efforts by the community to control the virus spread.

“We are getting there. We have a long road ahead of us but we are taking it day by day,” Henderson said. “Stopping the spread of this outbreak remains critical to every plan we have in place. In every area of planning we ask ‘what are the transmission risks?’ then plan accordingly.”

Henderson commended community members for “pulling together and doing what it takes to protect our community and those around us.”

Drumming is one way that members safely connect with each other, especially because so many people in our community do not have any or reliable internet access and cannot connect to Facebook or other social media. Some people do not have phone service. Under the lockdown, most people in our community are having difficulty accessing their postal mail as well.

Henderson offered thanks to Knucwentwecw Society and Northern Shuswap Tribal Council for their help to our community to fight COVID-19, as well as to nurses from White Feather Community Centre, the Three Corners Health Services Society Nursing Team and the 100 Mile House Interior Health Nursing Team.

The community is also grateful to West Fraser for delivering firewood to the community, she said as well as Emergency Management BC, First Nations Health Authority and the 100 Mile House RCMP, South Cariboo Search and Rescue. The latter recently participated in the band’s first successful food distribution drive.

Canim Lake Band workers are distributing food and supplies to well over 100 households.

”Food security is our number one priority, especially through a lockdown,” Henderson said. “We continue to fight this virus and look forward to the day we can all be together again.”

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