Nuxalk hereditary chiefs Q’umulha (Rhonda Schooner) and Nanus (Mike Tallio) at a checkpoint on Highway 20 in the Bella Coola Valley, activated March 25. (Nuxalk Nation/Williams Lake Tribune)

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Bella Coola’s COVID-19 checkpoint on Highway 20 has been in place for almost three months, imposed by the Nuxalk Nation. Haida Gwaii and Bella Bella on the B.C. coast have extended their travel restriction checkpoints to May 31. Tahltan, Nisga’a and Nakazdli Whut’en in the north have essential-only entry.

Tofino and Ucluelet saw checkpoints in March from the Tla-o-qui-at First Nation to back up the message of other communities reluctant to resume welcoming visitors. Those communities along with Port Renfrew, the popular fishing village on Vancouver Island, are preparing to welcome tourists back as province-wide pandemic restrictions ease.

RELATED: Port Renfrew eyes reopening tourism hotspot

RELATED: Tla-o-qui-aht stop traffic to Tofino, Ucluelet

As Premier John Horgan promotes tourism within B.C. for the summer of the pandemic, the blunt message to some tourists to turn around is acceptable, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says. She urged people to support B.C.’s tourism-reliant businesses and communities, but only if invited.

“The only caveat I have is that we have many communities, small communities, particularly our First Nations communities, who have understandably a greater degree of risk and loss that could happen if this virus was introduced in those communities,” Henry said at her daily briefing May 23. “So I would leave it to them to determine whether it is safe for people to travel to their communities and it is their – it’s up to them to determine when they’re ready for that, if at all, this summer. And it may be that some areas will not be appropriate for us to visit unless we’re invited in.”

In a year marked by other kinds of roadblocks directed at the Coastal Gaslink pipeline and resource projects in general, Henry’s avoidance of describing a “right” to Indigenous territorial claims is prudent. Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth are responsible for COVID-19 public health restrictions, including directing police and other officials to enforce them.

At the same time, federal and provincial governments have been reluctant to challenge any Indigenous assertion, including the Ontario Provincial Police declining to enforce a court order clearing the CN Rail system of Mohawk blockades in support of a handful of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposing Coastal Gaslink.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Guilty verdict for one of two men in large illegal marijuana grow-operation in Chilliwack

Charges dismissed against property owner where 3,200 plants, 32 kgs of dried weed found in 2017

Search continues for person seen floating in Coquihalla River in Hope

Rescuers halted the search Thursday night as darkness fell

Rescuers halt Coquihalla River search due to darkness, after reports of person in river

No information to indicate a child is involved, RCMP state, after this information surfaced on social media

Arrest at Abbotsford shopping centre

Man detained Thursday afternoon

Two Chilliwack women make weekly Crime Stoppers most wanted list

Ashley Felix and Raina McDonald wanted on unrelated issues

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Greater Vancouver home sales start to tick up, with prices holding steady

Residential sales last month reached 2,443, a 64.5 per cent jump from May

Langley Lodge’s deadly outbreak declared over

Fraser Health and long-term care home administrator confirm Friday declaration

PHOTOS: South Surrey tractor project evokes ‘$1-million smile,’ helps connect neighbours

Retired Surrey firefighter Ron Henze began project for friend’s dad to fill time during pandemic

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

Memorial set for one of three found dead at Langley house fire

Father wants the community to know the “amazing” person who’s been lost

Most Read