Heiltsuk Tribal Council – COVID 19: Heightened Travel Advisory

Press Release

March 18, 2020

To our community,

We would like to first start by saying to our Nation: You have always been and will always be Heiltsuk no matter where you reside. We value every Heiltsuk person and are grateful for the strength that you give to our Nation. When we face a crisis, you never fail to come together to support and uplift one another. This is one of those times, and we ask for your support, understanding, and strength to be shared with one another.

After much discussion and careful consideration, Heiltsuk Tribal Council by unanimous decision is escalating our previous travel advisory. Effective March 18th we are discouraging non-residents of Heiltsuk Territory (including Bella Bella and Denny Island) from traveling to the community. Members who are travelling to Bella Bella are expected to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival and continue the practice of social distancing. We are asking people to postpone nonessential travel for the safety of everyone. This does not include health care professionals, or mission critical staff.

We recognize that people have made travel plans in and out of the community, but it is the stark reality that Bella Bella is highly vulnerable to a COVID-19 outbreak. Our hospital has limited beds and limited resources which are difficult to replenish right now due to the current high demand at urban hospitals. Many individuals in our community have existing health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and respiratory problems and are therefore more susceptible. An outbreak of COVID-19 in Bella Bella would be dangerous and difficult to manage – and we would likely have to respond with the limited supply of oxygen, swabs, and other medical supplies currently at our fingertips.

This heightened travel advisory is a critical measure to ensure we are protecting the health and safety of our elders, our community members with compromised immune systems, our little ones, and our people as a whole. An outbreak of COVID-19 would have devastating consequences for our community and preventing this is our highest priority.

This decision is not made lightly, and we understand it may cause anger and frustration. We do this out of love and concern for our community members and our people. We need to stand together in the face of this pandemic and show our greatest support to those among us who are most vulnerable.

We are constantly re-assessing the situation and incoming new information with our interagency working group and will provide updates regularly. All posts and information can be found on our website www.heiltsuknation.ca


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