Update from BFN Chief and Council
Posted: Mar 25, 2020

As we continue to adapt to the many rapid changes brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic it is crucial to remember that we as a people have survived many foreign diseases, epidemics and pandemics throughout the years. This virus is not like anything we've ever experienced but we are a resilient Nation and that is because of our inherent understanding of how to be respectful to each-other, how to be respectful to nature and how to be respectful to ourselves. 

To date, there has not been any positive cases of COVID -19 in any of our villages here on the eastern shores of Lake Superior. However, we need to be vigilante and proactive if we wish to prevent the spread of COVID -19 in our communities. 

Our resilience historically was based on our ability to be adaptable and to be logically responsive to whatever we were being affected by. Social distancing is a concept we don’t normally align ourselves with however, in this instance, it’s imperative that we avoid contact with anyone other than our immediate family members. We also need to maintain the proper distance between people when tending to needs that may take us into public settings. We remind everyone to only venture out when absolutely necessary. 

Elders, please utilize the modified shopping hours provided by most stores in town, usually taking place between 7am-9am. BFN departments are doing their best to ensure all Elders (on and off reserve) are provided with essential items and are even delivering these staples when appropriate. BFN is also providing free transportation to Elders and those with special needs from our villages to access essential services including medical and food shopping.

Our Niigaaniin program has been busing stocking the shelves, as a matter of fact, we just purchased enough food to service 600 people. Our shelves are now filled to capacity to ensure our food bank is stocked for anyone in need. Those who would like to utilize this program can schedule a visit at the Administration office by calling (705) 257-8581. For those accessing this service in our Rankin community we ask that you simply ring the bell at the main entrance and provisions will be brought outside for you. Niigaaniin cheques will be issued March 27, electronically or between 1 – 4 pm at the band office.

This past week our community volunteers, youth, staff, members of Council and myself delivered over 170 nutrition packages to those families enrolled in the nutrition program as well as 50+ members who signed up by calling in. We took every safety measure possible when delivering the packages to ensure minimal exposure for everyone. 

We also delivered approximately 200 Elder’s Care packages to those who reside in the Algoma District. We are utilizing the “Christmas Gift Card list”. Those who didn’t have a package delivered to their address will receive their package in the mail. Please note that there is a “Help Needed” Red sign in each package. We ask Elders to post this sign in their front window if they need anything. We are also asking our community members to please check on Elders by watching for these red signs.

We can't stress enough the importance of hand-washing before eating, before leaving the house, returning home and after any human contact. As well as social distancing and self-isolating as often as possible. 

I’d like to acknowledge our businesses who are providing drive through services and where possible, take out. If you need any clarification on Healthy practices please feel free to contact our Health Centre. Contact information is available on previously circulated information or on our website.

All of our community events have all been cancelled until further notice, we will still be providing essential services which are by appointment only. As well, we will be doing daily wellness checks on our Elders and those who are vulnerable within our communities. 

We want to make special mention of Batchewana’s pandemic planning and implementation committee who have been meeting tirelessly for a few weeks now trying to address all of the needs of our People’s in our villages in whatever way they can.

I also want to say kudos to your members of council who meet electronically almost daily to make sure decisions are being made so our People are supported. We try to make decisions based on our need rather than what’s in the envelope. We are working with Canada to be able to provide anything that might come up as a result of this new pandemic. Let us know how we can improve. Take care and be well.

We will continue with regular communication updates and encourage you to visit our website and facebook page (the BFN endorsed facebook page has the logo at the top left of the screen and a photo of the admin. office as the banner) as often as possible. 

Please contact your members of council or the administration through the contact numbers that are made available,

In closing, I want to encourage you to get out on the land as an alternative to social isolating. Our Mother the Earth would appreciate that.