March 13, 2020
When I was elected Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, I took an Oath of Office and made promises to the Chiefs and citizens of NAN. I respect the Oath deeply, and take my duties as Grand Chief with the utmost seriousness. One of my most important duties is to, “watch for all dangers and give you warning.”
With the spread of COVID-19, NAN communities are facing serious threats to the health and safety of their members. NAN territory is home to more than one-third of the remote communities in this country. As such, we face unique and difficult challenges in protection from and containment of the virus. With so many unknowns and the rapid spread of information, there is understandable worry among us. In this challenging time, I encourage everyone to remain calm but vigilant in protecting themselves.
With the reality that COVID-19 is spreading, difficult decisions must be made. NAN has instituted an organization-wide travel restriction. We have called for the cancellation of important community events such as the Little NHL and the Northern Bands tournaments. These decisions do not come easy. Some of these decisions may be unpopular. I want to stress that all decisions are carefully made with the consideration of the health and welfare of NAN members as the top priority. In the upcoming days, we will continue to act with the well-being of our Nations as our guide. We acknowledge the courage and leadership from communities and organizations that have taken steps to minimize risks.
Moving forward, I call upon First Nation leadership, community partners, and all levels of government to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. We need a coordinated effort with clear lines of communication to ensure that accurate information is being shared, and resources are going where they are desperately needed. We must continue the work together as we move towards a common goal of ensuring that NAN communities remain safe and supported through this time.
-Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler