The small community of Kakisa, about a half-hour’s drive southeast of Fort Providence, has always been isolated and self-dependent.
Community members are taking the necessary precautions to keep it that way during the coronavirus pandemic, says longtime Chief Lloyd Chicot of the Ka’a’gee Tu First Nation in Kakisa.
Chicot said the community of 36 is trying to keep track of people who leave the community and those who may be visiting from afar. A roadblock has been set up at the junction into Kakisa from Highway 1 to monitor who comes and goes, and there are regular updated announcements to inform Elders and community members about health precautions that have to be taken.
“There is not much we can do because we are a small community and we are limited for funding and resources and things like that,” Chicot said. “We are doing our best to limit the amount of contact from people, including members going south and coming back.”
He said people seem to be OK as far as having supplies like food and other items available. There is almost always plenty of wood around too, he added.
He is concerned about individuals who are transient.
“It (food and emergency supplies) is not too much of an issue for us here but there are some that do go out saying that they are getting groceries, but we’re not really sure who they are getting in contact with,” he said. “That is one of the things we are running into.”
There is no local health centre so notices are handed out to households about the need to take health precautions, he added.
In the case of an emergency, the band is looking for units that could be used if there is the need, he added.
“It has not been a real concern because it has always been isolated and stuff,” Chicot of the lack of a health care centre. “Rarely we get a (medical professional) once a month, except for mental health help. When a nurse does come, they come for vaccination because people do need it for influenza and things like that.”
Chicot said band members are going out on the land and hunting as per usual, however he does have some concern about people keeping properly informed as the coronavirus situation develops.
“We are trying to (get people to be aware of health precautions) but there are a few that don’t abide by anything you say or tell them and they still go out,” he said. “There is at least one person who is going out and then bringing people in from different communities and some of them are transient.”
Chicot said he’s concerned because if something happens while people are away from the community “they are on their own.”
“They need to come into the office so that we can let them know and stuff like that,” he said of coronavirus updates. “There are a few people that don’t do that and they’re on their own and when something happens they usually end up running over here.”
The community is also trying to get people to stay in their homes and most are abiding by the rules and are in good spirits, according to the chief.
“That is the message that we have been giving but the kids keep coming to the office here and so we have information set up in the office for anyone that comes and we also have hand sanitizer,” he said. “Anyone that comes into the office we encourage to wash their hands in the bathroom.”
Extra cleaning efforts are made outside of the regular work that the janitor does at the office, too, he said.
With the school being closed, it means kids sometimes hang around the band office, but Chicot said it presents parents a great opportunity to teach their children at home and engage with the local culture.