For immediate release
April 15, 2020
Treaty Five Territory, Thompson, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is responding to news of updated public health orders issued today by Dr. Brent Roussin, Chief Medical Officer for Manitoba, which restricts travel in in Northern Manitoba.
“This is an extremely important measure to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus to First Nations in Northern Manitoba,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “On behalf of MKO, I send my thanks to Dr. Roussin as well as the Province of Manitoba for ensuring this measure is put into place. We currently have no cases of COVID-19 in our MKO First Nations and our leaders are doing everything within their power to prevent the introduction of this virus into our communities.”
Updated public health orders take effect April 17 and last until May 1, 2020. These orders include prohibiting travel to Northern Manitoba (north of the 53rd parallel of latitude) with some exceptions:
- Residents of Northern and remote communities may continue to move within Northern Manitoba
- Delivery of goods and services may continue
- Exceptions include those who travel to Northern Manitoba for employment, medical treatment, or to facilitate child-custody agreements
“I commend the leadership of MKO First Nations for acting swiftly and decisively in creating a check stops in Northern Manitoba to work to reduce the spread of the virus into our communities,” stated Grand Chief Settee. “Northern First Nations are particularly vulnerable to this virus as we lack health care infrastructure, have understaffed nursing stations, and lack housing that would better enable us to implement safety measures. More than two weeks ago the Chief and Council of the Misipawistik Cree Nation created a check stop on highway 6, which runs through their First Nation. Along with other Northern First Nations, they called for the closure of non-essential travel to Northern Manitoba due to their clear understanding that we need to take as many measures as we can to stop this virus from spreading during this unprecedented situation.”
As of April 14, 2020, Indigenous Services Canada reported that 629 tests for COVID-19 have been done on First Nations people in Manitoba. All tests have come back as negative. MKO is continuing 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 be prepared to respond to the virus should it enter Northern First Nations.
MKO shares regular updates on our social media accounts and on our new webpage.