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

Township of Spallumcheen opens office to public again

Protocols in place but you can do business in office if you so choose

North Okanagan Minor Lacrosse cancels box season

COVID-19 wipes out indoor lacrosse; group hopeful outdoor field season will start in August

Vancouver Foundation grants benefit Okanagan-Shuswap residents

Grants of up to $500 available for ideas that connect people socially or involve sharing skills

Water quality advisory rescinded for Killiney Beach customers

Turbidity levels improve enough to rescind advisory issued May 11

UPDATED: Two sent to hospital by air ambulance following Enderby highway accident

Drivers involved in collision on Highway 97A in Enderby; serious, but not life-threatening injuries

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Summerland once had Old English theme

Design guidelines were introduced in late 1980s

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read