Muskeg Lake, Montreal Lake Cree Nations shut down borders

Two Indigenous communities in central Saskatchewan are shutting down their borders to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from affecting them. 

A Band Council Resolution issued on Friday closed down roads in and out of Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, located about 95 kilometres west of Prince Albert, except for essential travel and emergency access.

"We will have checkpoints at various entrances and may prohibit people from entering the community if they are considered a risk due to COVID-19," a media statement from the band said. 

The band also enacted a state of emergency on Friday, and it won't be lifted until health officials say the immediate threat of COVID-19 has passed.

Band acting proactively

Omayra Issa/Radio-Canada

The media release said all essential services, including health services, will remain in operation. Non-essential services are to cease operation during the state of emergency. 

"I want to assure you that there are no cases of COVID-19 in our community at this time," a statement from Chief Kelly Wolf said. 

"We are acting proactively now, before the virus reaches our community, in hopes of preventing it from spreading in our community."

Band leadership in Muskeg Lake also asked that members host no gatherings at this time. The band's release said it would be updating its social media pages frequently to provide band members with more information.

Montreal Lake also taking action

Meanwhile, the Montreal Lake Cree Nation, located about 100 kilometres north of Prince Albert, is also closing its borders. 

"Please be advised that the Montreal Lake Cree Nation will be implementing a full-scale shutdown of its borders," a notice published by the band's pandemic response team said.

The notice said the shutdown would be in effect from April 3, 2020 to April 16, 2020 at 12:00 a.m. 

A curfew will be in place and enforced between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. in Montreal Lake.