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

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop donation bin runneth over

Volunteers now working toward a reopening soon with protocols in place

Man found dead in his tent at Chemainus homeless camp

Facebook posts tell of personal struggles and attempts to stay clean and sober

Simpson staying sharp for the baseball call

Pirates’ Chemainus player scraps initial plans for Houghton College in New York

CBIA ad campaign a business booster

Great to learn more about the people serving the community

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Most Read