Williams Lake chief, mayor and regional chair unite to give COVID update

Leaders of three different governments stood together in a united front Thursday afternoon to show their support for one another and provide a video update on COVID-19 in the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Taking part in a Facebook live update Jan. 14 from the Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) downtown Williams Lake office was WLFN Chief Willie Sellars, City of Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb and Cariboo Regional District (CRD) chair Margo Wagner.

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As of 4 p.m. Jan. 14 Sellars said 28 positive cases within WLFN membership had been confirmed.

“One of the medical health officers for our region, Dr. Silvina Mema, has informed us that we have approximately 300 cases of COVID-19 in the Thomspon-Cariboo-Shuswap region since Jan. 1,” Sellars said.

“Approximately one-third of these cases are Indigenous peoples, which includes outbreaks in our sister communities like Eske’t (Alkali Lake) and Canim Lake.”

Extending their sincere support for individuals in our region who have contracted COVID-19, Sellars said their hearts and prayers are with them in hoping for a speedy and safe recovery.

He said their efforts are focused on collaboration with IH, First Nations Health Authority, Emergency Management BC and Three Corners Health Services Society to contain the outbreak in the WLFN community of Sugar Cane.

By the WLFN emergency operations centre working with IH, WLFN could furnish six beds in the community to safely accommodate isolation.

Margo Wagner expressed her thanks and support on behalf of the CRD to the WLFN as they deal with a COVID-19 outbreak at Sugar Cane.

“Their actions and those being taken by First Nations across our region are critical to the success of our COVID-19 response,” she said.

“We honor the work that the WLFN is doing to protect both their community and people of the Cariboo Chilcotin. This commitment to swift, effective action is helping keep all residents of the region safer.”

Recognizing the importance of minimizing transmission in the region and the impacts the virus is having on our vulnerable populations such as elders, the CRD is ready to assist those communities in any way it can, Wagner added.

Wagner also recognized the Canim Lake First Nation’s efforts where there is poor internet service near 100 Mile House and said Chief Helen Henderson had done a phenomenal job of being proactive with all levels of government in the area.

“I have been proud of the non-First Nation community that surrounds the Canim Lake First Nation’s area because I have had several phone calls and none of them have been contradictory or blaming,” she added.

“They have all been Margo, if they need any help at all, please give us a phone call.”

Mayor Walt Cobb reiterated the need for meaningful communication from IH to the city.

“Some of our neighboring communities have been able to be more proactive in communicating and supporting their communities because they have the information,” he said.

“This is the only way we’re going to get ahead of this virus by being informed and being able to be prepared.”

The Cariboo Memorial Hospital continues to operate regularly despite an outbreak declared Jan. 13 after four staff tested positive, he said.

Sellars concluded the address by stressing the need for a unified front that everyone moves forward and urged residents to follow provincial health orders to stop the spread.

“It’s not just the First Nations communities, it’s also the non-First Nations communities are also a part of this outbreak response that are going to help us contain it.”

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