The Maskwacis Cree Tribal Council has declared a state of emergency amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic.
The declaration was signed Tuesday morning by members of the Samson Cree Nation, Ermineskin Cree Nation, Louis Bull Tribe and Montana Band.
The communities are calling on the federal government to provide them with the necessary money and resources to deal with a potential COVID-19 outbreak.
The chiefs note that Maskwacis, about 100 kilometres south of Edmonton, is vulnerable due to its proximity to Alberta’s two largest cities and airports.
“This declaration is not meant to create a scare or a panic.
“These type of mechanisms allow governments and councils to be able to access resources and benefits to ensure that the protection of community members are in place,” former Montana First Nation chief and current councillor, Bradley Rabbit, said.
Louis Bull Tribe Chief Irvin Bull said contingency supplies and emergency lodging need to be addressed.
“As I stated, we have 18,000 plus members. We have 2,000 homes. That’s like nine, 10 people per household. That creates an unsafe atmosphere,” he said.
“We care and we want to make sure that everything is going to be provided here in Maskwacis.”
Bull also stressed the importance of physical distancing within the community.
“I want to send a message out to our members, the parents, grandparents that are raising their grandchildren. A lot of our children and youth are still running around, maybe even partying. They shouldn’t be doing that. They should be staying home. Even the prime minister of this country is encouraging people to stay home,” he said.
The local declaration came on the heels of the Assembly of First Nations declaring a national state of emergency Tuesday.
The assembly’s motion said special consideration must be given to Canada’s 96 remote, fly-in Indigenous communities.
National Chief Perry Bellegarde said Indigenous communities need immediate increases in funding and full involvement in all discussions with governments on planning and preparedness.
He said while the announced federal funding is a good start, more will be required.
The motion also affirms support for all First Nations that have already declared states of emergency, travel bans and other measures.
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