7 Tsimshian elected Leaders prepare to ramp up protection of members from the spread of COVID-19

PRINCE RUPERT, British Columbia, Aug. 20, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The elected leaders of Lax Kwa’alaams, Metlakatla, Gitxaala, Gitga’at, Kitselas, Kitsumkalum and Kitasoo have written a public letter dated August 4th to Premier Horgan seeking to work with B.C. to ensure increased protection of their members in the wake of an influx of visitors from outside their territories and the Province.
Many license plates from Washington, Texas, Alberta and other provinces have been seen in the Tsimshian territories. These travelers are not just passing through and are staying for nonessential recreational purposes. The leaders would like to see travel restrictions for non-essential activities such as recreational fishing and other tourism related activities.The Tsimshian communities are remote with no capacity to manage the spread of COVID-19. Visitors from outside B.C. have been arriving at the communities by boat and car notwithstanding clear signage that the villages are closed to visitors. The First Nations have plans in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their communities and would like to see alignment between these plans and provincial pandemic planning.Minister Farnworth has been assigned by the Premier to work with the Tsimshian leaders to respond to the risks of COVID-19 spread. The leaders are expecting to meet with the Minister in the coming days and to set up a COVID-19 risk management coordinating committee including Tsimshian and Ministry staff.The leaders are committed to taking whatever action is necessary in order to reduce the risk of spread of the virus to their communities and to neighboring communities.“We will do whatever we need to do to protect our members and our neighbours,” said Chief Harold Leighton of the Metlakatla Nation.“It is very alarming to see license plates near our communities from places like Texas and Washington where COVID-19 is out of control. The new controls for people passing through to Alaska have improved the situation but there are still risks to our people,” said Chief Judy Gerow of the Kitselas Nation.Chief Linda Innes of Gitxaala Nation emphasized that the Tsimshians are working together to ensure the risks are under control.”Boaters have been coming into the Gitga’at territory for nonessential travel and are risking our people’s health and wellbeing.  There is a blatant disregard for my community’s safety and we need to take matters into our own hands if people don’t take the COVID-19 safety measures seriously,” said Chief Arnold Clifton.Contact:Alex Grzybowski – [email protected] (250-888-1534)Chanda Hunnie – [email protected] (204-995-1555)PDF available: http://ml.globenewswire.com/Resource/Download/8adccad2-6315-4dcb-bf9c-514866c857a8

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