For immediate release
April 28, 2020
Treaty Five Territory, Thompson, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is urging the Province of Manitoba to extend a public health order issued earlier this month, which prohibits travel in Northern Manitoba.
“Prohibiting travel to Northern Manitoba is an extremely important measure to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus to First Nations,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “MKO would like to encourage the Province of Manitoba to work closely with First Nations leadership when making any plans that would open up travel to Northern Manitoba. We also encourage the province to work closely with us in developing plans to open up the economy in Manitoba; Northern Manitoba has unique circumstances and we must ensure these are reflected in public health measures developed to respond to this pandemic.”
Public health orders prohibiting travel to Northern Manitoba (north of the 53rd parallel of latitude), with some exceptions, are in effect until May 1, 2020.
“The leaders in MKO First Nations have shown immense strength in the work they have been doing to protect their communities. I am pleased to say there are still no cases of COVID-19 in our MKO First Nations and we absolutely need to be diligent to keep things this way,” stated Grand Chief Settee. “I want to remind the Province of Manitoba that Northern First Nations are particularly vulnerable to this virus as we lack health care infrastructure, have understaffed nursing stations, live in remote communities, and lack housing that would better enable us to implement safety measures.”
“In addition to prohibiting travel in Northern Manitoba, MKO would also like to see check stops on highways leading to Northern Manitoba. The public health measure prohibiting travel has been operating on an honour system,” shared Grand Chief Settee. “The only check stop on Northern highways is run by the people of the Misipawistik Cree Nation. They created a check stop on highway 6, which runs through their First Nation. It would be great if the province could step up and help us to create check stops on highways 6 and 10.”
MKO continues to work closely with First Nations in Northern Manitoba to try to prevent the introduction of the COVID-19 pandemic to MKO citizens and to prepare to respond to the virus should it enter Northern First Nations.
MKO shares regular updates on our social media accounts and on our COVID-19 webpage.