Northern B.C., Indigenous Communities in Race to Be Ready for COVID-19 –

Delays in testing, lack of supplies, overcrowding and pressure from industrial camps raise concern from B.C.’s most remote communities

The federal government’s $1-billion COVID-19 response includes $100 million to help Indigenous communities, but details and timing remain unclear.

So Alex Mirhashem, executive director for the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, isn’t waiting. He planned to drive two hours from his home in Atlin on the weekend in search of basic supplies for the community such as hand sanitizer.

“I’m going to Whitehorse myself to see if I can find anything that will help us in bulk,” Mirhashem said Friday. “If I have to buy the machine that dispenses hand sanitizer, I will do that. I haven’t gotten anything here yet. Not even a box of napkins has come through the door.”

The town of about 500 people is located in B.C.’s far northwest, near the Yukon border. While its isolation provides an opportunity to prepare for the pandemic or even prevent its arrival altogether, Mirhashem fears it could spread quickly if introduced to the community.

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