Anxiety and grief, Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief looks beyond COVID-19

·2 min read

Nak’azdli Whut’en is preparing for its annual general meeting (AGM) as Chief Aileen Prince looks toward the future.

“I’d first like to express my condolences to all community members who have lost loved ones in these past few months,” Prince said in a Facebook video Friday, Jan. 22.

“It’s been absolutely heartbreaking to see our loved ones being taken like this, and also condolences to all outlying communities and the losses that they’ve had,” she said.

“It’s been very tough for our community not to be able to support them as well.”

COVID-19 vaccines rolled out to the Indigenous community adjacent to Fort St. James Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Prince encourages members and non-members living on reserve to make an appointment through their health centre to receive their vaccine.

As the disease has resulted in Nak’azdli Whut’en staff working long hours to ensure the community’s safety, Prince provided a brief overview of upcoming projects.

A 32 unit-housing project is being eyed for 2022-2023. Planning has also begun on an Elder’s housing project.

“Our rental housing is doing really well and we’re actually in the black,” Prince added.

“It’s really nice to see that we’ve finally reached that stage in our housing program where we are bringing in enough funding to be able to maintain the rental housing over the years and to be able to put some aside for some new rental housing.”

Nak’azdli Whut’en has established a $25-million trust in which funding is set aside for the future from their impact benefit agreements. Prince said she hopes to provide members with a further update on the trust shortly.

Council has developed a recreation committee and is looking forward to having their first meeting this week.

With COVID-19 having shuttered their government offices, Prince said they would try to re-open them as soon as possible.

A satellite office in Prince George is anticipated to open shortly.

While it is too early to confirm if their AGM will be held in person or online this spring, topics will include membership code that Prince said they have been working on the past eight months and natural resources.

“It is going to get better,” she said.

“We just have to get through this part.”

Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune