Maskwacis First Nations declare state of emergency

Declaration helps access funds to respond to COVID-19 pandemic

The four First Nations of Maskwacis have declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chiefs with Samson and Ermineskin Cree Nations, Louis Bull Tribe and Montana Band held a news conference Tuesday to explain why they took the steps they did and to encourage all to work together.

Samson Cree Nation Chief Vernon Saddleback said declaring a state of emergency makes it easier to access and allocate funds to respond to the pandemic.

The response from the four First Nations will be about “everyone doing their part,” said Saddleback.

“This is not a time to panic. This is not about panic,” he said.

The chiefs called an urgent meeting last weekend and decided to exercise their treaty right to health under the Medicine Chest clause in Treaty 6. The declaration activates the Famine and Pestilence Clause of the treaty.

“We call upon the federal government to honour the terms of the treaty and provide immediate funding, resources, tools and supplies necessary, based on expressed needs,” the chiefs said in a statement.

Montana First Nation proxy Chief Bradley Rabbit said on Tuesday, “we all know it’s a very, very challenging time in the community.”

Rabbit said First Nations communities are particularly vulnerable because of overcrowding. Some three-bedroom homes have 12 to 15 people living in them, he said.

“If one person in that home ended up getting sick, the entire home is quarantined.”

A $305-million Indigenous community support fund announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is welcomed, but there are questions about how the money will be doled out equitably to all First Nations communities, he said.

Alberta Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Marlene Poitras urged all community members to do their part to avoid contracting and passing on the virus.

“There are so many unknowns about this. Please protect yourselves, because if it hits our communities, I’m afraid of the devastation that could occur,” said Poitras.

“The leaders are doing everything in their power to deal with governments, to deal with whoever they need to deal with to ensure that protocols and systems are in place so that we can protect the communities.”



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Sylvan Lake students treated to car parade

Cars were decorated with “we miss you” signs for Beacon Hill Elementary School students on April 9

Kenney discusses COVID-19 affects on agriculture, infrastructure over teleconference

Alberta government announced additional infrastructure funding to spur job growth

Eckville business raising money for Central Alberta food banks

Prairie CDC is selling unique wall plaques with proceeds going to different food banks each week

Sylvan Lake RCMP arrest suspects in action

Incidents happened last Sunday and Monday in the Birchcliff and Lacombe County areas

A message from the publisher

Consider a voluntary subscription to Sylvan Lake News

Lacombe realtors continue to serve community through pandemic

Real estate considered an essential service through COVID-19

Millet Fire Department turned on their lights and sirens to energize the community during COVID-19

Town of Millet residents braved the cold to show community support through social distancing.

Alberta Premier expects oil and gas employment numbers to become ‘much, much worse’

Jason Kenney says he expects Alberta downtown to ‘be deeper and longer than the rest of the world’

Stettler couple brightens up the community with online Sunday afternoon sing-alongs

Doug and Shirley McKay play a variety of favourite tunes at 2 p.m. via Facebook

WATCH: Update from Prime Minister Trudeau

April 8 briefing from Ottawa

Most Read