Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse confirmed Tuesday there has been COVID-19 exposure in his community. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Northern B.C. First Nation told to isolate after released inmate with COVID-19 visited

Chief Joe Alphonse asks residents of rural community to stay within their homes and self-isolate

A released inmate who stopped in to visit family at Tl’etinqox (Anaham) First Nation west of Williams Lake after leaving a Lower Mainland institution has tested positive for COVID-19.

Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse is urging all of his 700 on-reserve members to isolate with their immediate families as they wait out the incubation period of the virus and determine the impacts of the approximately two-hour contact.

“Unfortunately this is our reality. It’s here. We are not immune. I urge all our First Nations leaders to take all steps necessary to protect your communities. If you’re doing it to protect your families, then you’re doing the right thing,” Alphonse said Tuesday evening (April 21).

Alphonse said the exposure came five days ago when the released inmate, who was not showing any symptoms and still hasn’t, stopped in the community to visit an ill family member on his way to a half way house in Prince George. A volunteer transported the man and has also been tested and is awaiting results.

READ MORE: Remote B.C. First Nation confirms positive COVID-19 case

The community was notified by representatives of the Northern Health Authority, who have done contact tracing.

Alphonse is questioning how an inmate with COVID-19 could possibly have been released and allowed into communities without any government oversight.

“You would have thought the institution would have tested him. That’s pretty alarming.”

Alphonse is asking residents to “stay home as much as you can, for as long as you can” during the pandemic.

“We’re asking all family members to stay within their homes,” Alphonse said. “It’s gotten really real and we all have to assume we have it for the community’s safety.”

Alphonse said there are many families who are upset by the news and are heeding the warning, but there are also some community members who are not taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously, mainly youth and those with addictions, Alphonse said.

He is also finding since many larger centres are restrictive, such as nearby Williams Lake, Tl’etinqox members are returning to the community to carry on with their addictions.

“It’s scary. As a politician you hope that all your people will listen to you but that’s not reality.”

Alphonse has shut down all roads except the main entrance to the community and is putting security in place this week to man the only entrance to monitor who is coming in, where they are going, what they are doing and if they are sick.

Seeing the suffering that COVID-19 has inflicted around world, and looking back at their history with the Spanish flu and small pox, Alphonse said you can’t help but be afraid knowing it’s here.

“You’d be a fool not to be afraid.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusIndigenous

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

Just Posted

BC Cancer Foundation launches COVID-19 response fund

Abbotsford resident encourages support of cancer research and care

Nurses acknowledged with new scholarship at UFV

Jackie and Dick Newton’s daughter donates to honour nurses who cared for her parents

Maple Ridge woman fights WorkSafe B.C. over police widow’s pension

Dalila Vroom says husband, Const. Robert Vroom, died as result of PTSD from time with Abbotsford PD

Abbotsford Hospital COVID-19 outbreak over, a new one reported at business

New World Technologies is site of ‘very small’ outbreak, says Dr. Bonnie Henry

UPDATED: Missing Abbotsford man, 77, found safe and sound

John Brooks had last been seen getting on a bus on Monday, June 1

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

After delay, ‘Metro Vancouver’s Largest Indoor Amusement Park’ set to open in Surrey

At Central City Fun Park, ‘things will be a little different than what we had originally planned’

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Vancouver Island school principal mourns brother, cousin killed during U.S. protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate target on hold at 0.25%

Central bank now expects GDP to decline between 10 and 20 per cent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

B.C. schools see 30% of expected enrolment in schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Most Read