Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse confirmed Tuesday there has been COVID-19 exposure in his community. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Northern B.C. First Nation told to isolate after released inmate with COVID-19 visited

Chief Joe Alphonse asks residents of rural community to stay within their homes and self-isolate

A released inmate who stopped in to visit family at Tl’etinqox (Anaham) First Nation west of Williams Lake after leaving a Lower Mainland institution has tested positive for COVID-19.

Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse is urging all of his 700 on-reserve members to isolate with their immediate families as they wait out the incubation period of the virus and determine the impacts of the approximately two-hour contact.

“Unfortunately this is our reality. It’s here. We are not immune. I urge all our First Nations leaders to take all steps necessary to protect your communities. If you’re doing it to protect your families, then you’re doing the right thing,” Alphonse said Tuesday evening (April 21).

Alphonse said the exposure came five days ago when the released inmate, who was not showing any symptoms and still hasn’t, stopped in the community to visit an ill family member on his way to a half way house in Prince George. A volunteer transported the man and has also been tested and is awaiting results.

READ MORE: Remote B.C. First Nation confirms positive COVID-19 case

The community was notified by representatives of the Northern Health Authority, who have done contact tracing.

Alphonse is questioning how an inmate with COVID-19 could possibly have been released and allowed into communities without any government oversight.

“You would have thought the institution would have tested him. That’s pretty alarming.”

Alphonse is asking residents to “stay home as much as you can, for as long as you can” during the pandemic.

“We’re asking all family members to stay within their homes,” Alphonse said. “It’s gotten really real and we all have to assume we have it for the community’s safety.”

Alphonse said there are many families who are upset by the news and are heeding the warning, but there are also some community members who are not taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously, mainly youth and those with addictions, Alphonse said.

He is also finding since many larger centres are restrictive, such as nearby Williams Lake, Tl’etinqox members are returning to the community to carry on with their addictions.

“It’s scary. As a politician you hope that all your people will listen to you but that’s not reality.”

Alphonse has shut down all roads except the main entrance to the community and is putting security in place this week to man the only entrance to monitor who is coming in, where they are going, what they are doing and if they are sick.

Seeing the suffering that COVID-19 has inflicted around world, and looking back at their history with the Spanish flu and small pox, Alphonse said you can’t help but be afraid knowing it’s here.

“You’d be a fool not to be afraid.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusIndigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Terrace RCMP respond to firearms call on South Side

One person arrested without incident

The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine office in Terrace is now open to the public

The office has been closed since March 17 due to COVID-19

New technology is helping battle avalanches near Stewart

The automated avalanche detection system just finished a successful first season

BC Hydro studying new power connection in northwest B.C.

Would supply hydro-electric power to planned LNG plant at Kitimat

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Facing changes together: your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Most Read