Council Extends State of Emergency in Neyaashiinigmiing

At the Council meeting of Friday May 28, 2021, the Council of Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation extended the State of Emergency in Neyaashiinigmiing until June 30, 2021.

There are hopeful signs on the horizon, of an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the gradually increasing vaccination rate and a corresponding reduction in new cases in the province. We remain vigilant, however, to the ongoing risk of a dangerous outbreak. The Council and Administration will continue to take extraordinary actions as necessary to keep members and the community healthy and free of COVID-19. We are grateful for the incredible strength, patience and support of the entire membership and community of Neyaashiinigmiing.

An ad hoc Reopening Committee has been struck to create a plan for the safe and responsible reopening of Neyaashiinigmiing. The committee members are Cynthia Jamieson, Acting First Nations Administrator; Cynthia Porter, Health Manager; Amy Ingram, Supervisor of Social Services; Councilor Nick Saunders; Judy Nadjiwan, Board of Education Administrator; Patrick Nadjiwan, Legal Counsel; and Dr. Ian Arra, Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health. The committee will balance our obvious desire to see life return to normal, with the need to reduce the risk of a dangerous outbreak in the community. The recommendations of the committee will also address our seasonal cottagers and campers who are eager to return to Neyaashiinigmiing as soon as possible.

We encourage everybody who is eligible for, and can tolerate a vaccine, to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at the earliest opportunity. We are holding a clinic in the community on Saturday, June 19, for members and their immediate families as young as 12 years old. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, register today.

If you have not been vaccinated yet, we look forward to seeing you at a vaccination clinic soon! Let’s work together to help bring this pandemic to an end. Your vaccination protects you, our youth, and those who can’t tolerate the vaccine for other medical reasons. Whether vaccinated or not, all community members are asked to continue to observe pandemic protocols to help keep the community safe.

  • Wear a mask outside your home.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Watch your distance and stay 2 meters away from people you don’t live with.

Neyaashiinigmiing COVID-19 Update

In response to the ongoing pandemic, the Council has decided to extend the Neyaashiinigmiing State of Emergency until February 28th. Under the State of Emergency, the Council has been able to take extraordinary actions to keep the community safe.

We have limited access to the community by closing one of our two entrances and setting up a monitoring station at the other. While it is impossible to say what might have happened without these actions, the Council feels that reducing the level of outside traffic in Neyaashiinigmiing has helped our community avoid the worst of the pandemic.

We have also extended the operations of our Food Bank. The Food Bank has received significantly more funds since the beginning of the pandemic and is able to serve all community members. With more space required for the additional foodstuffs and supplies, the Food Bank has also been allowed to operate out the Community Centre, at least until the end of March, 2021.

COVID-19 vaccines are finally being distributed in Grey Bruce, although only in small amounts. The supply of authorized vaccines is severely constrained around the world. We expect that we will receive small batches in intervals from the federal and provincial health ministries. We don’t have a long-term schedule for when we will receive batches of vaccine. We do know that it will be many months before we have enough community members vaccinated that we can begin relaxing the protocols that have kept us safe all this time.

Vaccinations are being given according to priorities set by the federal and provincial health ministries. COVID-19 is highly contagious and requires significant care for those that become seriously ill. The virus threatens to overwhelm regional health care providers if it spreads too quickly. The goal of the vaccination priority order is to reduce the spread of the virus and protect the health system so that we can care for those that do get ill.

Health workers will receive vaccinations first, as well as vulnerable people who live or provide care in what are called “congregate settings”. That just means a multi-resident apartment or facility. Congregate settings are considered more risky because if one person in the building catches the virus, there could be a large number of people exposed. Our Seniors Apartment Complex is an example of a congregate setting. On the other hand, an individual or small family living in their own house may be just as vulnerable to COVID-19, or even more, but there is less chance of many people falling ill if one member of a single household catches the virus.

Our next COVID-19 vaccination clinic is tentatively scheduled for February 11, 2021. This date is based on the best available information, but it may change before the day. We will update the public as soon as we receive more or different advice. If you live in Neyaashiinigmiing, the Health Centre will invite you to receive the vaccine when it is your turn. At this time, we will not be holding an open vaccination clinic for all residents.

We know that everyone wants the potentially life-saving vaccination and we are doing everything we can to get more vaccine in the community. Indigenous communities have been identified as high-priority communities for vaccinations by all levels of government. The limitation at this point is simply the amount of time it takes to manufacture and deliver the vaccines. While the manufacturers ramp up their production, we must be patient and stay safe by following our protocols:

  • Wear a mask outside your home and keep it on.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Stay at least 2 meters from people that you don’t live with.


Ontario Declares Second State of Emergency

In response to the crisis of rising COVID-19 cases in Ontario, the Province has declared a second state of emergency. For the duration of the emergency, the colour-coded zone system will be paused.

Per the Ontario government website:

“Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for permitted  purposes or activities, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for work where the work cannot be done remotely. This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people’s mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings for these purposes, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.”

“In response to the alarming and exceptional circumstances at hand, and to further interrupt the deadly trend of transmission in Ontario communities, hospitals, and long-term care homes, the following additional public health measures will take effect January 13, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. This is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
  • Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres.
  • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.”

The state of emergency is being supported by legal authority granted to provincial officers.

“The province will provide authority to all provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors in places open to the public”.

The Chief, Council, Nawash Health Centre, Community Emergency Response Group and the rest of the administration is doing everything we can to keep the community safe until we can vaccinate our most vulnerable. We urge all Neyaashiinigmiing residents, and all of our members living in Ontario, to follow current COVID-19 safety guidelines and any health and safety orders. Keep yourselves, your relations, your neighbours and your communities safe and healthy.

We will update the membership with more information as we receive it.

Neyaashiinimiing State of Emergency Extended

With the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases in Ontario, we are reminded that we remain in the grips of the pandemic. There is still no vaccine approved for COVID-19, nor is there an effective treatment. COVID-19 is a dangerous illness that is particularly risky for people with compromised immune systems or pre-existing health conditions.

In order to keep the Neyaashiinigmiing community safe, the Council has passed Motion 478 accepting the recommendation of the Community Emergency Response Group to extend the State of Emergency for Neyaashiinigmiing up to and including October 31, 2020.  The state of the pandemic and local conditions will be reassessed near the scheduled end of the State of Emergency to determine our next, best actions.

Council Extends State of Emergency for Neyaashiinigmiing

At the August 21, 2020 Council meeting, the Chippewas of Nawash Council voted to accept the recommendation of the Community Emergency Response Group and extend the State of Emergency for Neyaashiinigmiing until September 30, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, making the possibility of a viral outbreak a real and significant threat to the community. While the constant adherence to the well-known safety protocols of wearing face masks, washing hands, maintaining physical distance from other people and avoiding gatherings is challenging, Neyaashiinigmiing cannot afford to become less vigilant.

Under the current State of Emergency, the Council temporarily shuttered non-essential band programs while maintaining employee pay, offered wage support to small businesses and employees, significantly expanded the operations of the Community Food Bank, distributed food boxes to non-resident member households and grocery cards to all member households, cancelled risky public gatherings and events, restricted outside access to Neyaashiinigmiing, installed a monitoring station to help ensure compliance with restrictions, and created a community-wide face covering policy. These actions, and others have kept us all safe and dramatically reduced the economic harm of the pandemic to all our members.

The Council recently moved to relax some restrictions, allowing non-resident members, seasonal campers, and registered leaseholders into the community. We are now entering another delicate phase with the start of the school year. Classes will be held at Kikendaasogamig Elementary,  albeit in a safer, heavily modified fashion, beginning with online classes on September 8, moving to in-person classes on September 21. During this period, the Council will carefully assess the initiatives put in place to determine our next steps forward.

We are grateful for the patience and strength the entire membership has shown over the past 6 months. Together we will persevere, stay focused and stay healthy.

Grey Bruce Medical Officer Extends Face Covering Order

The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, despite a downward trend in cases in the province. With a vaccine still on the horizon and few effective treatments for those suffering the worst effects, the threat of a COVID-19 outbreak remains a real threat. Dr. Ian Arra, the Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health, has consequently extended the class order requiring the use of face coverings in all commercial establishments, until September 11. Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation Council has a parallel order in place, covering Neyaashiinigmiing businesses and Administration workplaces.

The best advice of medical professionals is that, without a cure or reliable treatment, we should do everything we can to avoid spreading the disease in the first place. Widespread mask use, in combination with physical distancing and frequent hand washing, has been definitively shown to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. When leaving your home, remember to take and wear your mask when you are near people not from your household, or whenever you enter a building that is not your home.

State of Emergency for Neyaashiinigmiing Extended

After reviewing available data and discussing present circumstances with Dr. Arra, the Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health, the Council has accepted the recommendation of the Community Emergency Response Group to extend the State of Emergency for Neyaashiinigmiing until September 1, 2020.  We are gradually moving toward a full re-opening of the community, but we will only do so in alignment with the Council’s strategy of phased re-opening with significant monitoring of the effect of each phase on the health of the community.

Recent steps to begin the re-opening started with seasonal campers and registered leaseholders because these smaller, well-defined groups can be easily monitored for compliance with safety protocols. It would be irresponsible at this point in the pandemic to open up the community widely, with no practical way to assess if the large number of visitors we might expect are behaving in a safe manner. The Council will not risk the health of Neyaashiinigmiing residents by removing the monitors or access restrictions in haste, or without clear medical and operational guidance that it can be done safely.

The State of Emergency allows the Council to take the extraordinary actions required to manage our interests in the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council will reassess the need for the State of Emergency again in the week before the current expiry date of September 1, 2020. We are grateful for your continued patience and support and look forward to returning the community to some normalcy in the days to come.