Since enacting a state of emergency last week, Katzie First Nation staff are hustling to ensure their members are taken care of during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their emergency operations centre team has partnered with Friends in Need food bank to provide food for 49 families in need.
Ordinarily the families would come by the Katzie administration centre and pick out the items they desire, however with the social distancing requirements in place, it was deemed too risky an endeavour.
The EOC team decided to sort the items in-house and have started delivering the packages to the families every Friday.
Safety has been made a priority.
“In our large gym we have separated all the tables by at least two metres,” Katzie First Nation health director, Lynn Seabrook said.
“We all wear masks and gloves, and we have a commercial kitchen, so we’re constantly doing hand washing.”
She said the response from the community has been positive.
“They’re very grateful,” Seabrook pointed out.
“We have a lot of elders, and a lot of vulnerable individuals, and some of the families are quite large, so if the virus were to get into our community it could be devastating.”
Seabrook added the packages are made up of more than just food.
“We make sure we’re also including books and colouring books for the kids,as well as crayons and markers,” she said.
“We want to keep them stimulated while they’re off school.”
This week the team sent out frozen fish – which community members caught last summer – to some of the elders as a treat.
By all accounts the community is a close one, so the social isolation aspect of this crisis is very difficult on everyone.
“We interact regularly,” said Katzie First Nation chief Grace George.
“We work together, we live together, we participate in workshops, and ceremonies, and gatherings, and we share our social time together.
“I think we always care a lot about providing for each other and making sure everyone has what they need in times of crisis.”
With physical separation, the band members are using technology to connect.
George said they have used applications like Microsoft Zoom to set up counselling appointments for cultural support, and failing that, the band has been phoning its members to check in on the most vulnerable ones.
“We’re encouraging people to practice the things that we have always used to pull us through difficult challenges, and it seems to be working,” she said.
“People have been able to reconnect to grounding tools and have moments of prayer, and we have people who go out and continue to drum and sing at seven o’clock for the front -line workers that are both inside-and-outside of our community.”
George said she is also posting videos to the community’s private Facebook page to provide updates.
“We share a lot of our vital info on that page,” she said.
“We have a weekly newsletter that goes out, so people are able to make sure the flow of information is consistent, constant and up-to-date.”