At all four of its reserves, Snuneymuxw First Nation security guards are monitoring who is coming and going and ensuring all travel is essential.
It’s a measure the First Nation put in place Saturday after learning some members tested positive — a first since the pandemic began.
“We’re asking all our members to stay home,” said Chief Mike Wyse. “They only should be going out to get essential needs, medical needs and … to work off the reserve.”
On Friday, the Snuneymuxw First Nation first learned of five cases on reserve and each day since the numbers have increased — today reaching 15. A shelter in place order has been put in place for two weeks.
“I’m hearing there are some cases that are members that are connected to our people but are from other First Nations so as the days go by the numbers are increasing,” said Wyse.
A couple of members out for some essential shopping today say the situation is scary.
“It became real now. Like it’s right amongst us. Before you watched it on the news that it was in different parts of the country or different parts of the island but now it’s right here on the reserve,” said John Wyse, a Snuneymuxw First Nation member.
“Makes me sad. Sometimes I find myself crying cause I miss my family too and I can’t visit with them because of this pandemic,” adds Patricia Robinson, who lives on the reserve.
The Snuneymuxw’s chief says they have asked Island Health to make vaccinations for their vulnerable a priority.
“There’s a great need here. Our elders are very vulnerable right now. They’re comparable to other elderly homes. We have overcrowded houses where these elders live so there’s very high risk there,” said chief Wyse.
The Snuneymuxw aren’t alone.
Cowichan Tribes has three confirmed cases on reserve with several members in other communities also testing positive and chief William Seymour says he’s urging members to stay home and follow provincial safety orders.