Food Bank Volunteers Working to Keep the Community Safe

While most of us are sheltering at home and maintaining social distance, the Nawash Food Bank volunteers are working hard all week to keep the food and necessaries stocked and organized. The Food Bank is available to all Neyaashiinigmiing residents, and may be accessed twice monthly by each household.

While the Food Bank is open for public pick-up on Tuesdays, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM, and Thursdays, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, the volunteer organization would prefer that you take advantage of their delivery service. Call the Maadookii Seniors Centre, or the Daycare to arrange for safe, convenient delivery, and avoid crowding and outdoor line-ups at the Community Centre. If you do visit the Food Bank in person, please remember to stay safe and keep your distance from other patrons, even if you know them well.

The Maadookii Seniors Centre telephone number is 519-534-4918. The Nawash Nshiime Daycare telephone number is 519-534-3909. Call today to arrange your free food delivery!

Dedicated Help Line for Indigenous People Applying for Federal Benefits

The Federal government has relaxed some regulations around who can apply for and receive Employment Insurance, and the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and made benefits retroactive in some  cases as well. Reports indicate that applicants are receiving funds under the programs in under a week. These developments have made the Chippewas of Nawash Small Business/Entrepreneur Living Wage Program no longer necessary. The Chief and Council have closed the Living Wage Program as of April 11, 2020. Members are urged to apply for Federal Employment Insurance benefits or CERB, as soon as possible.

The Business and Employment Support Worker is available to assist members making applications under these Federal programs.

Service Canada has also announced a dedicated toll-free phone line for First Nations members who need help with applications for both Employment Insurance and the CERB. The number for Service Canada’s Outreach Support Centre Line is 1-877-631-2657.

Band Office Temporarily Closed

To all community members:

An employee in the band office has developed flu-like symptoms and is resting at home. The employee has consulted a doctor and the symptoms do NOT indicate a COVID-19 test is necessary. The employee is taking medical advice to self-quarantine for 14 days, in case the illness should worsen or develop symptoms of COVID-19.

Out of a similar abundance of caution, the Band Office will be closed to employees and the public until Monday, April 27th. The Council is being extremely vigilant for signs of illness in the community. During the closure, the Band Office will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, to ensure the environment is safe for the return of essential employees. Payroll for all Band staff will still be processed despite the closure.

Again, this is NOT considered a possible case of COVID-19. The Community Health Nurse is diligent in investigating any reports of flu-like illness or symptoms in the community, and to date there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Neyaashiinigmiing.  If a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified in the community that information will be shared with the community by Health Services and the Chief and Council.

We urge all residents to continue to follow all the safety protocols that have been recently issued. Observe social distancing; hand wash frequently; do not gather; stay home except for essential trips out.

If you are personally experiencing flu-like symptoms, please call the Community Health Nurse, Springdawn Keeshig, at 519-378-6028 for assessment and advice on what to do next.

We understand that social distancing and staying home is difficult, but be assured that it is working. So far we have been able to avoid a single positive case of COVID-19 in the community. Please be strong in your resolve and help keep our community safe!

Chief Greg Nadjiwon and Council

Food Bank Serving the Entire Community

Maintaining social distance can be a challenge as your shelves begin to empty. It may seem like a trip to town for groceries is inevitable, but remember that the Food Bank is now serving all residents twice weekly. Using the Food Bank helps us by reducing the risk of the COVID-19 virus being carried in from the outside by an unsuspecting food shopper.

The Food Bank is supplying civic-minded residents with a selection of quality food products, including dairy and meat. The food bank is open twice weekly, Tuesdays from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM, and Thursdays 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and residents may access the service twice monthly.

Maadookii Closed to the Public

For the added safety of our Maadookii residents during the pandemic, the building will be closed to the public until further notice. Access to the Maadookii will be restricted to residents, staff, and caregivers only.

The COVID-19 virus is particularly dangerous to the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions. Please respect the health and safety of our cherished Maadookii residents and do not enter the building at any time without the express approval of the Maadookii supervisor.

Vehicles Required to Come to a Complete Stop at Monitoring Station

In response to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, access to the reserve is restricted, by a Band Council Resolution, to residents and essential services only. The Sydney Bay Road was closed, and a monitoring station put in place at the Coveney’s Road entrance to ensure that residents are complying with the restricted access direction. 

The Chief and Council are gravely concerned that some community members are not stopping at the monitoring station on Coveney’s Road when entering Neyaashiinigmiing, and instead speeding by the monitors or merely slowing down to wave. This moving traffic is dangerous for the monitors, who work alongside the road performing an essential service for the community. It is also dangerous to the community as a whole if vehicles are not stopping because they are bringing non-residents into the community, who may potentially be carrying the virus.

All drivers are reminded that they must come to a complete stop when entering the community and identify themselves and their passengers to the monitors. Drivers that do not stop may face a fine. 

We understand that this is an inconvenience of a minute or so, but it is just one of the necessary measures being implemented by the Chief and Council to keep the community safe. For the sake of all our relations, we must isolate the community as much as possible to reduce the risk of the virus gaining a foothold in the community.

Please do your part! 

  • Practice social distancing; do not gather.
  • Hand wash frequently.
  • Stay home except for essential trips.
  • Utilize the Food Bank.
  • Do not bring non-residents into the community.

A Message from Cynthia Porter, Home and Community Care

Well, we made it through the long weekend.

I would like to thank everyone who maintained self-isolation. I know that it’s so hard not to be with family and friends on special occasions, particularly if there is a feast.

I just wanted to check in with you all to make sure you’re doing alright. We have never had to deal with this type of a situation before. It’s not unusual to feel anxious, depressed or frightened at this time. Emotions may come out as annoyance or anger. Please be kind to yourself and others, we can work this out together.

At this trying time, all of the tried-and-true stress management strategies apply. Eat healthy meals, get plenty of sleep and meditation can be helpful. The following are additional actions you may want to try:

  • Stay Informed – Insufficient or contradictory information may intensify anxiety. Only use reliable sources of information. (i.e.,,
  • Information Overload – limit the time taken to seek information about COVID-19. Information overload can aggravate your reaction to stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Connect with Others – all of us need reassurance, advice or a sympathetic ear during difficulty times. But be careful who you choose as a sounding board. Avoid talking about the virus with people who tend to be negative or who reinforce and ramp up your fears. Turn to people in your life who are thoughtful, level-headed and a good listener.
  • Be Kind To Yourself – this is an extraordinarily taxing time. Go easy on yourself if you’re experiencing more depression or anxiety than usual. You are allowed to feel the way you do. You’re not alone in your struggles.
  • Breathe – if you feel yourself starting to spiral out of control, grounding yourself in the present moment can stop the negative spiral. The technique is simple: bring your attention to your breath and your body. Focus all of your attention on the here and now: noticing the sights, sounds and smells around you. Continue to breathe slowly in and out until you feel calmer.
  • Maintain a Routine – try to stick to your usual routine; go to bed at your regular time, get up at your usual time and make your bed, eat your meals at your regular time (avoid excessive snacking), feed the pets or take your dog out for a walk as you would usually do.
  • Get Out in Nature – sunshine and fresh air will do you good. Going for a short walk can make you feel better. Even just sitting on the porch can help.
  • Exercise – staying active will help you release anxiety, relieve stress and manage your mood. You can look for exercise videos on line such as, yoga, tai chi, stretching exercises.
  • Find a New Hobby – have you always wanted to learn to bake, paint, sing? It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it takes you out of your worries.
  • Avoid Self-Medicating – be careful that you’re not using alcohol, food or other substances to deal with anxiety or depression. If you tend to overdo it in the best of times, it may be a good idea to avoid it for now.

If you feel that you really need to talk to someone, the following services are available:

  • SOAHAC – will provide counselling to their registered clients
  • Victim Services – are available 24 hours daily, providing counselling over the phone or by video chat.
  • Mental Health Crisis Line – is available 24 hours daily, providing caring and non-judgmental support

Stay strong! You can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Together, we’ve got this.

Thank you,

Cynthia Porter, Reg. Nurse

Lack of Social Distancing Puts Community at Risk

Health officials in the community, as well as the Chief and Council, are very concerned that some community members are not taking the social distance directive seriously. Numerous reports have reached the administration of residents gathering together socially or sharing a vehicle for trips off the reserve. For the safety of all of us, this must stop.

COVID-19 viral infection is a dangerous illness. Initial reports about the virus suggested that it was only a disease of the old or infirm, and that young or healthy people had little to fear. This is simply not true. While many infected people exhibit minor or no symptoms, the disease is serious and often debilitating, even for those who don’t require hospitalization. It can be much worse, or fatal, for the elderly or those with an existing condition like diabetes. The virus is also highly contagious and can be spread by someone showing no symptoms at all.

We are fortunate that there have been no COVID-19 cases identified in Neyaashiinigmiing yet, and we understand that it is difficult to stay away from friends and relations for such an extended period of time when there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong. 

Community and social gathering is an important part of our cultural identity. We have survived as a nation because of the strength of our bonds to all our relations, those of blood and those of community. We instinctively draw together in times of trouble.

This is a critical time, however, and we must be strong in a different way. The virus is spreading into the Grey-Bruce area and we are extremely concerned about it reaching the reserve. The only way we can protect our relations is by staying away from them. Symptoms of infection are slow to appear in an infected person, and are sometimes very minimal, but the person is still contagious. We simply cannot assume that we are not infected, or that a friend without symptoms is not infected. We must act, at all times, as if we are already infected and just don’t know it yet.

With the number of vulnerable people in our community,  and our limited resources, a COVID-19 outbreak in Neyaashiinigmiing would be devastating. There is no vaccine for COVID-19, nor is there a proven specific treatment. The Chief and Council implore all residents to take this crisis  seriously. Lives depend on it. None of us wants to be the one that ignored the warnings and spread a fatal disease to a loved one or community member.

We ask that all residents refrain from gathering with people from outside your household. Remember that there is currently a province wide ban on gatherings of more than 5 people from outside your household. 

Limit your trips off the reserve to emergencies or medically necessary appointments only. If you must drive with someone from outside your household, have no more than two people in the vehicle, including the driver. Make use of the Food Bank and other services to avoid trips to town. Follow the advice of Health Services to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Protect your friends and family. Maintain social distance. Keep 2 meters apart at all times.

Ministry of Education Announces Support for Families Program

On April 6, 2020, the Ministry of Education announced the Support for Families program, which provides one-time financial support for families to purchase educational materials during the current school and childcare closures. Under this new program, parents are eligible for a one-time, per-child payment of: 

  • $200 for children aged 0-12, or 
  • $250 for children and youth with special needs aged 0-21. 

All children within the identified age brackets are eligible for the program. This includes: 

  • Children enrolled in public school 
  • Children enrolled in private school (includes on reserve First Nation schools) 
  • Children attending child care 
  • Children who are home-schooled 
  • Children who are not enrolled in school or attending child care 

All parents who are residents of Ontario are eligible for funding, including parents of First Nation children attending schools on reserve. 

Follow the link below to apply for the first time. Parents/guardians that applied for the Support for Parents program during the school strike days are automatically enrolled in this  Support for Families program and do not have to apply again. 

The Ministry has now added an option for First Nations schools to the drop down list of schools. Families with children in schools on reserve should select “My child is not enrolled in either public or private school” and then select the “My child is attending a First Nation operated/federally operated school” option from the drop down list.

To apply, visit: