Clifford Atleo, 75, holds on tight to his wife Matilda.
“That’s my soul mate,” he said. “We’ll be married until they put me under.”
“I couldn’t imagine being alone,” adds Matilda.
The Tseshaht First Nations elders, who are recovering from a bad cough and cold, are currently self-isolating in order to avoid COVID-19.
They are also among the more than 100 First Nations elders living in the Port Alberni area, which has become the focus of the Tseshaht’s emergency preparedness boss, Hugh Braker.
“Aboriginal people have a much more hands-on approach to emergency preparedness,” said Braker. “So, we’re hoping we’re doing as good a job as we possibly can.”
Ensuring elders remain healthy is a top priority for the Tseshaht.
“We also have a high number of people with compromised immune systems,” Braker said, adding. “Aboriginal people have high incidents of tuberculosis, cancer, diabetes.”
The Tseshaht immediately began implementing measures to help their elder population. They sent out $300 cheques to each elder, so they could buy cleaning supplies and groceries. Halibuts and herring roe have already been harvested, cleaned and loaded into the elders’ vehicles to ensure social distancing.
They also just receive a shipment of hand sanitizer.
“This one’s from Shelter Point [Distillery] at Campbell River,” said Braker, referring to the shipment of sanitizer that arrived.
Barker said the measures have been working as there hasn’t been a single case of COVID-19 in the community yet.
But even though the measures have been effective, the Atleo’s and other Tseshaht elders will continue to self-isolate.