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. nawash.ca, publichealthgreybruce.on.ca, canada.ca)
  • 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: https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-support-families

Health Professional Clinics Postponed Until Further Notice

Nawash Home and Community Care advises that, due to safety concerns during COVID-19 pandemic, all health professional visits have been postponed until further notice. This is effective immediately. The Diabetes and Foot teams will not be in the community this week as previously scheduled. The Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC), has also suspended the regular weekly visits to Neyaashiinigmiing.

Diabetes clients requiring assistance can call the Diabetes Team at the Wiarton Hospital, 519-534-1260. Leave a detailed message with your contact information if your call is not answered immediately.

Foot clients can call Telehealth Ontario for advice, at 1-866-797-0000.

SOAHAC is available by phone at 519-376-5508.

Ontario’s COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool

There are a number of COVID-19 cases in the Grey-Bruce area, including an employee of the Owen Sound Walmart. It is more important now than ever that we continue to practice social distancing, frequent hand washing, and staying home. If you have been out, are feeling unwell, or have symptoms, you can determine what to do next with this self-assessment tool published by the Province of Ontario.

Federal COVID-19 Emergency Benefits Program opens today

If you’ve lost work or income due to the pandemic, you may qualify for the Federal goverment’s COVID-19 benefits program. Call the toll-free line at 1-800-959-2019 to make an application by phone. Prime Minister Trudeau has said that those using direct deposit will receive funds in 3-5 days, while those waiting for a mailed cheque will wait 10 days. More details in this CBC.ca story.

A statement from the Fire Department

Councillor Nick Saunders, also Chief of the Nawash Fire Deparment, issued the following statement to the members:

Good afternoon,

All my relations. At this time, the Chippewas of Nawash Fire Department would like to thank all the residents of Neyaashiiningmiing for their help and efforts in slowing the spread of COVID-19. The burn ban now in effect has been put in place to protect and reduce the risk to firefighters.

The burn ban includes unnecessary burning of dead grass and leaves, as well as campfires. We do however respect the traditional medicine people, and the right to have sacred fires, and will allow those fires.

In these unprecedented circumstances, the Chippewas of Nawash Fire Department appreciates the entire community’s cooperation in helping us to stay safe, so that we can better serve the community in a time of need.

Thank you!

The Chippewas of Nawash Fire Department Team

A statement from the Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation Police

Vincent Wurfel, Neyaashiinigmiing FN Police Supervisor, issued the following statement for the members:


The Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation Police are committed to the safety of our members and the community. We request that you only attend the Police Office if necessary.

For emergencies, please call 911.

For any non-urgent concerns/questions, please call the office during regular business hours at 519-534-1233 (Option #1 for Administrative Assistant & On-Duty Officer or Option #2 for Sgt. Vince Wurfel). For non-urgent matters, you can also email the Administrative Assistant, Cindy Nadjiwon at cynthia.nadjiwon@opp.ca.

We will be limiting the processing of record checks. They will only be conducted to facilitate employment & volunteer for essential services. Please call ahead if you require a record check.