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When the north was hit with the wildfires of 2015 we all found ourselves ill-prepared to address the severity of that crisis. Our community was fortunate that we had a Band Councillor who dedicated herself to ensuring our people's needs were met. I volunteered to help as much as I could and took on the role of communications and liaison with our neighboring community of Beauval for the duration of the emergency. I literally danced in the rain the day the sky opened up and poured that glorious water that doused the flames and cleared the smoke.
The following year a few of the volunteers who took care of the community of Beauval invited us to take part in Emergency Operations Training and the integrated command system between Beauval and ERFN -LaPlonge took shape. The following year the First Nations began getting similar training and preparations began to address all manners of emergency situations.
When we knew that COVID-19 was coming ERFN activated their Incident Command System and I was brought on stream to do Communications and Liaison between my home reserve of ERFN-LaPlonge, ERFN- Patuanak, the Hamlet of Patuanak and Beauval. When the North West Communities Incident Command was created I also was given the honor to be the Liaison with the region. Dealing with this COVID-19 has been a challenge that has been sometimes exhausting, sometimes maddening, deeply motivating and eye-opening. Had any one of us had to do it alone it would have overwhelmed even the strongest among us. I applaud all who cared so strongly for their families and communities to step up and take on the role of leading us through the unknown terrain that this Pandemic presented. This team brought together the best of the best and united the entire region under its wing. We broke through the fictitious jurisdictional barriers and empowered our people through a crisis. We recognized our own vulnerabilities and strove to protect all in our homelands on Treaty Ten and Eight. Coming through this we can see new possibilities in the strength of our combined unity and vision. Moving forward with a team such as this we can indeed make a "NEW NORMAL" that will be far more than the old normal ever allowed us to be. STAY WELL and STAY UNIFIED.
English River First Nation Patuanak
For the past three months, Covid 19 has identified our strengths and weaknesses as a community. We adapted and changed to the constant evolving situation of confirmed cases. Our ultimate goal was to protect and care for everyone. We shared our Pandemic Planning with the North West region and created a safety plan network that will be present for future pandemics.
For all the stakeholders who were involved in the Covid 19 Pandemic, we have encountered and will continue to endure this invisible force but will be better prepared for whatever comes our way. For those who were affected by Covid 19, we learned how valuable a human being really is. As people of the north we faced different challenges from our southern neighbours. We learnt how valuable our limited medical establishments and frontline workers are. Covid-19 highlighted the housing crisis that we face in the north. Protecting our borders and boundaries was a major achievement in the containment of this virus.
Many thanks to the major stakeholders who played a role in this fight. You know who they are and we’ll continue our efforts until a cure or a vaccine is found. I am so honored to be from Northern Saskatchewan and a member of English River First Nation.
Collaboration, cooperation, communication and dedication. Thank you NW-CICC and to all involved in the effort to combat COVID 19. We achieve positive results when we work collectively and as a one voice. Our communities and the Northwest Region is safer for all your efforts. Let’s keep the momentum going. Thank you.
- Sask Ministry of Trade & Export Development.
- Municipalities of Saskatchewan.
- Councillor, NV of Ile-a-la Crosse