Globe and Mail – First Nations are among the most vulnerable populations in B.C., with the most to lose – the loss of an elder represents a loss of language, culture and history. First Nations are still waiting for the BC government to respond to repeated requests for more information and resources to protect communities and fulfill the following four basic measures:
- An information-sharing agreement to ensure early reporting of suspected and confirmed cases in nearby regions to Indigenous governments;
- screening methods to ensure travellers seeking to enter Indigenous territory are not symptomatic or infected with the virus;
- rapid-testing mechanisms available that can prioritize Indigenous and remote communities – in fact, there are currently just two rapid testing kits for all Indigenous communities in B.C.
- And finally, funding for culturally safe contact-tracing that can increase the likelihood of effective tracing in the event of an outbreak, and reduce the risk of racist interactions with the health care system of the sort the government has decried.
We continue to call on the B.C. government to consult and meet with us, on a nation-to-nation basis, to begin implementing the four safety measures on an urgent basis, and to discuss the underlying issue of systemic racism, which appears to be driving the status quo of putting Indigenous lives at risk.