Dear NAN Community Members,
Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, many nations, including our own, have taken dramatic steps to safeguard their citizens and restrict the spread of COVID-19. This has included closing borders, limiting gatherings, and implementing other public health measures.
The next phase in responding to COVID-19 is for communities to plan for the long term. This pandemic is likely to last for 18-24 months. Part of this planning includes discussing when and how to ease public health restrictions. As the situation develops, communities may—with caution—consider reinstating programs and services, while ensuring that COVID-19 precautionary measures such as physical distancing and infection control measures are still in place.
Leadership should discuss this process with their community before making any decisions and consider a phased response. This response will vary between communities and should be tailored to each community’s circumstances. Communities should also prepare for periodic “waves” of the virus, where COVID-19 infections rise and the risks to NAN communities increase.
The Task Team has revised the following framework to support communities with these discussions and preparations. The changes in this revised version include the addition of infographics, more details on how the reopening process can work in communities, and revised gathering limits that reflect Phases 2-3 of Ontario’s reopening plans.
This document is based on best practices and processes from other jurisdictions in Canada and across the globe. This guidance aligns with the approaches that other jurisdictions have taken to re-opening, but with criteria, examples and language that are relevant to NAN communities.
Our partners and service providers, including Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) and Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, have provided feedback and are committed to reviewing the document on an ongoing basis.We also welcome feedback from community leadership and members. We anticipate that new versions will be released in the future based on this feedback, and as the COVID-19 situation continues to develop.
Finally, we believe that leaders should continue to ask the Creator for guidance as they work with their communities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the Creator’s direction and the strength of the Anishinaabe people, the communities of NAN will be able to win the fight against COVID-19.
The NAN COVID-19 Task Team