|An Information "checkpoint" may go up next week sometime near|
Salvus as Coastal Tsimshian continue to seek a meeting with the Premier
The potential for a checkpoint on Highway 16 is still apparently an option for the Coastal Tsimshian, with Mayor Garry Reece of Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla Chief Harold Leighton issuing a statement today calling on Premier John Horgan to prioritize First Nations Health and meet with them to discuss banning non-essential travel to isolated regions.
"The Government of B.C. has simply asked the public to stay local. We want them to tell people they must stay away. We are telling visitors to stay away and may even have to demand it to keep our communities safe. More isolated First Nations communities such as ours are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of this pandemic—one of many we have suffered through historically—as are the many members of both our nations who now live in Prince Rupert." -- Lax Kw'alaams Mayor Garry Reece
"As leaders, we cannot not stand by as our people are exposed to the risks of COVID-19 coming into the community through non-essential travel. We encourage Premier Horgan to respond to our meeting requests and work collaboratively with us on solutions to help keep our community safe from COVID-19." -- Metlakatla Chief Harold Leighton
The two First Nations leaders on the North Coast have requested a meeting with Premier Horgan to discuss banning non-essential travel and ask that both the B.C. and Alberta governments take a more active role in educating the public of the risks recreational visits pose to First Nations communities during COVID-19.
Among some of the measures that they are seeking include:
When issuing freshwater fishing licences, that the Government of B.C. provide information telling people to stay local and not travel to other regions to fish. Licences should not be issued to people outside of the region.
The Province assist the Nations in asking the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans not to issue saltwater fishing licences for the region to people living outside of the region.
Government consider providing additional health care resources to ensure that both the local hospital and the region are better equipped to manage potential COVID-19 cases.
As for what is now being called an "information checkpoint" Mayor Reece indicated in today's statement that the measure is being considered for as early as next week on Lax Kw'alaams reserve land on Highway 16, he also indicates that further action could include a blockade of non-essential travel later on.
"Our goal would be to educate people on why they need to stay in their own communities rather than entering Prince Rupert area unless absolutely necessary. Later, if needed, we may also set up a blockade of non-essential travel. "
The location of any information checkpoint or blockade to non-essential travel would be along Highway 16 on Lax Kw'alaams's IR 26 Reserve, on the Prince Rupert side of Kasiks, roughly 60 kilometres west of Terrace at Salvus.
It was noted that the Nations are not looking to restrict the movement of residents of the Northwest or impact the movement of goods or economic activity.
As we outlined on May 4th, the prospect of a blockade was included as part of a webinar presentation hosted by the Council of Haida Nation.
So far there has been no statement from the City of Prince Rupert related to the proposed measures outlined today and what if any impact that it many have on city residents, or those that may have to travel to the community.
You can review the full statement from the Coast Tsimshian here.
For more notes related to the two First Nations of the North Coast see our archive pages below