Cega'kin (Carry The Kettle) First Nation in lockdown following COVID-19 outbreak

·3 min read

Cega'kin (Carry The Kettle) First Nation has gone into a lockdown following an outbreak of eight cases of COVID-19.

Chief Brady O'Watch said his emergency management team put the lockdown in place on Sunday after being notified by the Saskatchewan Health Authority about the cases.

"We have a lot of elders in our community, a lot of children, some people with … medical complications, so it was in our best interest to, I guess, call a lockdown again," O'Watch said.

Everyone on the first nation of about 1,000 members has been asked to self-isolate for 14 days, O'Watch said. Cega'kin First Nation is located about 100 km east of Regina.

He said the council and emergency team have been in touch with members through social media and a print newspaper that they deliver door to door. They've been sharing information about the lockdown and the measures that need to be taken to contain the spread of COVID-19.

O'Watch said before this lockdown was initiated, he'd been clear to members that if there was an outbreak, the first nation would lock down for 14 days, so the measures were somewhat expected. The steps are also familiar to most people now, he said.

"This lockdown is just something we have done before, so … a lot of positive feedback from our membership, just appreciating that we are taking this seriously, we're not taking any risks."

Health team available to help

The first nation has a health team available to help families, with staff checking up on people every few days.

There's also a colour code system in place where people can put a certain colour in their window and the health team will then know what they need help with. O'Watch said the colour code system was put in place in March and is being revived for this lockdown.

During the last lockdown earlier in the year, O'Watch said they had activities for the kids to complete, and they've been working to get school online, so that will be available again during this lockdown. The first nation has a kindergarten to Grade 12 school.

It could be a blessing for us to reevaluate some of our family ties together. - Chief Brady O'Watch, Cega'kin (Carry The Kettle) First Nation

One family member is allowed to go out a couple of times a week to get essential supplies. There is a curfew of 7 p.m.

The store on the first nation is taking precautions like only allowing one customer per time, doing deliveries and allowing people to pay through the window.

He said many people are working from home.

"They are willing to do the lockdown because they understand the need to keep our families, keep our elders and children safe," O'Watch said.

The lockdown is a way to limit the amount of people coming in and out of the first nation, O'Watch said.

Essential workers will be screened, and asked to go directly in and out to their work, no stopping in between.

'It could be a blessing'

Despite all of the restrictions in place for the next two weeks, O'Watch said there are some positives to take away from the pandemic.

"It really brought families more together, you know, appreciating that connection between one another.… It could be the Creator, it could be a blessing for us to reevaluate some of our family ties together."

He said he's encouraging members to pray and to smudge in their homes.

"It's all about reconnecting ourselves to our ancestors and how we used to live before. So I will say to our membership, you know, think more positive, be more positive. Yes, this is a pandemic, this is a bad thing. But, you know, we can try our best to try and look at some more positives, what little they are, but still to be more positive, not just for ourselves, but for our children."