Over the years, Namgis First Nation built up a community team of volunteers and staff to step up during emergencies. We have written grants for training and supplies through our Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). We partner with other jurisdictions and agencies on Vancouver Island to implement our plans in unison, including: local municipality, local health authority, RCMP, and neighbouring First Nations.
During COVID-19, it has been useful to have regular updates and communications through the EOC. We have established teams to do regular check-ins with different sectors of the community: Elders; young parents; and youth.
We have been preparing spaces for possible quarantine patients and compiling lists of volunteers for delivery of food, supplies, or medications. We have been canceling or modifying services and programs to reduce exposure, postponing large community events, and are ensuring local businesses are aware of their responsibilities. We are aiming to ensure those living on Cormorant Island receive information regarding COVID-19, community safety protocols, and changes to accessing medical services during this pandemic.
We enlisted our volunteers and requested trained staff from Namgis First Nation to set up the EOC. Funds were requested from partner agencies and government sources by our EOC Director with the support of Namgis First Nation.
The pandemic has been a reminder that we all play an integral role in prevention and have a responsibility in protecting the health and well-being of ourselves and others. Our biggest challenge has been encouraging physical distancing, as there continues to be family gatherings and visiting. The cancellation of school has created a challenge for parents and families to direct youth towards other activities in a confined space.
Pandemic planning has also revealed other areas for improvement:
- Business continuity plan needs to be updated with all sectors;
- Need for different communication strategies for reaching youth and at-risk youth; and
- Need for different communication strategies for responding to stressed community members.