B.C. First Nation faces COVID-19 outbreak; community leaders issue racism warnings

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VICTORIA — A First Nations community on Vancouver Island is fighting to contain a COVID-19 outbreak while facing intolerance from some members of the surrounding community.

Cowichan Tribes general manager Derek Thompson says some members of his Duncan-area First Nation have faced discrimination in the community since COVID-19 cases were first reported this month.

Thompson says there were no COVID-19 cases among their members for the first 10 months of the pandemic, but that has increased to 73 people since Jan. 1.

The First Nation has issued a stay-at-home order for tribal members until Jan. 22 in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Duncan-area politicians, including Green Leader Sonia Furstenau and North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring, have denounced what they say are recent disappointing and racist behaviours of some people toward the Cowichan Tribes.

The First Nation is the largest single band in B.C. with about 4,900 members and Thompson says it will begin administering 600 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to elders on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press