Snuneymuxw First Nation puts reserve on lockdown to protect elders

Snuneymuxw First Nation puts reserve on lockdown to protect elders

Out of love, Kasey Wyse stood guard Monday.

At just 20 years old, she is a frontline defence against COVID-19 on her Snuneymuxw reserve.

Stopping all traffic in and out at a roadblock, and allowing only residents and essential services access, to stop the pandemic from slipping in and endangering elders.

“It makes me feel almost like my community’s lives are in my hands,” said Kasey Wyse.

Elder Gary Manson said he is hopeful the efforts his band is taking are working.

So far there’s been not a single case of COVID-19 on the reserve.

“We’re grateful that those roadblocks are up to monitor,” said Gary Manson.

As an elder, the 72-year-old is one of the keepers of the Snuneymuxw culture, a revered storyteller and singer, and is a treasure to his granddaughter, Talela.

“They hold a lot of our information in our culture,” said Talela Manson.

“So being able to have them around is incredible,” she added.

As a child, Gary Manson learned from his mother about the impact that the smallpox pandemic of 1862 had on First Nations in British Columbia.

It wiped out half their population.

“And it devastated our people,” said Manson, adding. “And I think we’re all thinking of that.”

So in an act of love for their community, people like Wyse and four women led by Cheryl Milburn are stepping up as volunteers to help.

To save elders from having to leave the reserve, the volunteers are going out grocery shopping for them. They also check in on each regularly.

“Just realizing how important they are and that we have to fully protect them,” said Snuneymuxw member Cheryl Milburn.

“In total we have 76 elders that we’re taking care of,” she said.

And so the roadblock in front of the Snuneymuxw reserve will remain as long as it is needed; to keep the keepers, as they’re called, apart from a pandemic that these people have sadly seen the likes of before.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!