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Archive for March, 2020

A Message from the First Nations Health Council

Date:

Following the March 21 joint FNHA-FNHC-FNHDA call to postpone or cancel all gatherings, the FNHC calls on community leadership, Hereditary Chiefs, Matriarchs and Spiritual Leaders to help reinforce the critical public health advice to postpone cultural gatherings and large ceremonies.

Please respect this critical advice – our spiritual teachings place our Elders and most vulnerable citizens at the forefront of our collective responsibilities to our communities and Nations. During this time of self-isolation and physical distancing (6-feet from each other), please use this time for prayer and self-reflection, stay safe and protect the health of you and your family.

As leaders within your communities, you play a key role in making sure everyone is healthy and safe.  The four most important things that you can do:

  • Encourage everyone to be kind, calm and stay healthy by following public health guidelines.
  • Support community leadership to ensure compliance with the handwashing and physical distancing recommendations and the March 21 call to cancel or postpone all gatherings.
  • Check FNHC.ca/coronavirus for the latest information and resources on COVID-19 for individuals, health professionals and communities.
  • Take responsibility for staying informed and sharing only trusted resources – misinformation can be harmful and cause greater risk to our communities and overburden staff. In this evolving situation, sometimes the answer isn’t known or available right now.

Other ways of supporting your health staff in dealing with COVID-19 include:

  • Review your existing Communicable Disease Emergency Plan (Pandemic Plan) and update it as needed.
  • Review the community’s supply of essentials.
  • Where there is one, check to see if the community health centre or nursing stations requires additional support to prepare for possible coronavirus patients.
  • Train and prepare staff to cover for each other as people may need time off to care for their families or for themselves.
  • Involve the whole community in efforts to prevent the spread of the virus by sharing tips on how to prevent its spread, as well as how to recognize the symptoms in each other.

If your community has concerns about access to care relating to COVID-19, contact your FNHA Regional Team or covid19@fnha.ca. Your First Nation Health Council regional representatives are also a source of information and support during this crisis – please call on them.

FNHA/FNHC/FNHDA Advise Against All Gatherings to Prevent COVID-19 Spreading

Date:

For Immediate Release
COAST SALISH TERRITORY – VANCOUVER, BC –The First Nations Health Authority, the First Nations Health Council and the First Nations Health Directors Association are strongly advising communities to cancel or postpone all community and cultural gatherings until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.​

With the increasing evidence about the rapid spread of COVID-19 in British Columbia, and on the advice of public health physicians, the First Nations Health Authority also strongly recommends against any unnecessary travel. 

Furthermore, given the unprecedented risk COVID-19 presents, physical distancing is absolutely necessary to prevent serious illness and death in our communities. Please stay at least six feet apart from each other at all time. We are particularly concerned about the Elders and Knowledge Keepers, young children, and those with chronic disease. It is imperative that all of us take responsibility to care for each other by following this public health advice.

We do not make this recommendation lightly—we acknowledge the significance of cultural gatherings and events for First Nations communities, but from a public health standpoint we have the responsibility to communicate the severity of this rapidly evolving situation. Please cancel upcoming events, and reschedule for after this pandemic has passed.


Quotes:
Dr. Shannon McDonald, FNHA Deputy Chief Medical Officer “COVID-19 is a severe respiratory disease that is very easy to transmit from person to person, and that can have deadly consequences. It is in our province and potentially in your community. It only takes one person to carry the disease to their family and community. Gatherings of any kind present an unreasonable risk.

We have a very brief opportunity to prevent the spread and the devastating consequences of this disease in our communities. Any gathering where close contact occurs can cause transmission and none of us are immune. I am especially worried about our Elders, young children and those with underlying health issues.”

Colleen Erickson, FNHA Board Chair “The responsibility lies with each and every one of us to do everything possible to protect ourselves so in turn we protect our families, our elders and community. Especially our Elders who are the keepers of our oral history, language and age old wisdom.”

Charlene Belleau, Chair, First Nations Health Council “The FNHC calls on Hereditary Chiefs, Matriarchs and Spiritual Leaders to help community leadership reinforce the critical public health advice to postpone cultural gatherings and large ceremonies. Please heed this critical advice – our spiritual teachings place our Elders and most vulnerable citizens at the forefront of our collective responsibilities to our Nations. During this time of self-isolation and social distancing (6-feet from each other), please use this time for prayer and self-reflection, stay safe and protect the health of you and your family.”

Keith Marshall, President, First Nations Health Directors Association “We thank and acknowledge those working on the front lines to support community health, including the 150+ Health Directors in BC and our nurses and health professionals. We especially appreciate the work of Health Directors, Chiefs and health boards to ensure community health centres remain open for essential services in this crisis; and we encourage all Health Directors to practice self-care during this extraordinary time.”​

Learn more:
Go to www.fnha.ca/coronavirus for up-to-date information on COVID-19 and resources for you community.
Media Contact: John Moody Telephone: 1-604-831-4898Email: john.moody@fnha.ca
For more on this topic please see this article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/covid-suspend-sweat-lodges-pipe-ceremonies-1.5504541
To find out more about First Nations Health Authority, visit: http://www.fnha.ca/

Download this media release in PDF format here​