Kinistin lockdown keeping COVID-19 out of community

KINISTIN SAULTEAUX NATION — After a case of COVID-19 was diagnosed at James Smith First Nation, Kinistin Saulteaux Nation Chief Greg Scott and the rest of the band council decided to lockdown their community.

The lockdown came into effect on April 5. Scott said that it is working to keep COVID-19 out of the First Nation located 39 kilometers southeast of Melfort.

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According to a notice sent out by the chief and council, the lockdown means that only members of Kinistin are allowed to stay in the community, children are encouraged to stay home at all times, and anyone else is limited by a 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew. If people do need to leave the community for essential supplies, like groceries and medication, only one person from each household is allowed to leave.

There are plenty of residents with compromised immunity, he said, so the risks of COVID-19 are real.

“Leadership thought that it would be best to take the steps now and moving forward. This is ongoing and evolving. Where we're at right now is that we still have our border locked on our restrictions into our community where we are restricted only to resident members only.”

Local traffic is still allowed, Scott said, including travel to Kipabiskau, but local security is taking notice of the vehicle occupancy limits and contact tracing in the event of COVID-19 entering the community.

Essential services are still available in the community, Scott said, with health care, protective services, sanitary services still working within the community.

Putting an entire community on lockdown does have its challenges and the community will start looking into more mental health services to work with people on their emotional and mental wellbeing, Scott said.

Getting information out into the community and taking care of the elders have been some major priority for the council, Scott said. This includes going for medication, water, and food for those in need. Even with the stiff measures, the community is in agreement on taking these tougher steps, Scott said.

Thanks to funding from the federal government, Scott said the band is financially stable for now with the extra security costs being covered with federal funding.

Scott said council reviews the lockdown measures on a weekly basis to analyze the challenges that the community is dealing with. In the likelihood of a second or third wave of the pandemic, Scott said the safety of the community is his primary concern.

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