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First Nations limit entry

By Kathy O'Reilly, North Island Eagle,  April 3 2020

Reserves on the North Island have closed their doors to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Only residents and essential travellers are being allowed to take the ferry over to Alert Bay.

In Port Hardy, a checkpoint has been set up at Beaver Harbour Road and Fort Rupert Road. Aries Security is manning the post 24/7 and limiting entry to T’sakis residents, essential service providers and first responders.

A similar checkpoint has been set up at the bridge that leads onto the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwakda’xw Reserve that is also being manned round the clock, said band Councillor Ed Charlie.

This measure, said Charlie, is being taken not only to stop traffic going in, but to limit the number of those leaving the community.

For instance, youth are only allowed to go into town and back once a day and the band has family members driving elders into town or picking up items for them, Charlie said.

“Everybody in the community is pitching in.”

Photo — Kathy O'Reilly

Gwa’sala-Nakwakda’xw Nation band Councillor Ed Charlie takes a turn manning a checkpoint at the bridge leading onto the reserve.

With stories of people hoarding and panic buying in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, it becomes even more important to see examples of how a community can come together instead of tear itself apart. Thanks to the efforts of a small group of committed people, the North Island now has exactly such an example: The Senior’s Defense Initiative. 

It all started when the Hardy Bay Senior Citizens’ Society recently made the difficult decision to close the Seniors Citizens Centre down amidst growing concern over the effects of COVID-19. “We had a chat at the board level, and we thought ‘this is coming’,” says Rosaline Glynn, president of the society. With their members all belonging to a high-risk group for the virus, the society decided to be proactive. “I would say 100 per cent of us are taking it seriously. With the age group of our members, if there was a choice between saving a 30 year old and an 80 year old, they’d have to save the 30 year old.”

Glynn and the rest of the board were concerned about the effects of self-isolation on the seniors. “We’ve really tried to build this family atmosphere. We’re here for one another, we’re your family - especially if you’re on your own. That’s our goal and we didn’t want to lose that.”

Thankfully Alex Higgins was thinking along the same lines. He approached Glynn before the closure of the Seniors Citizens Centre and suggested a system that would ensure seniors in self-isolation receive calls every day from a team of volunteers. 

Volunteers come together to help seniors stay connected

By Travis Winterwed, North Island Eagle,  April 3 2020

Photo — Travis Winterwed

The Senior’s Defense Initiative that provides daily telephone check-ins was launched to help North Island seniors cope with self-isolation.


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