Members of the Squamish Nation are receiving delivery of 700 care packages Friday to help members stay safe and keep their “bubbles” small as the community fights to contain an outbreak of COVID-19.
As of Thursday, the number of positive cases of the virus among Squamish Nation members had climbed to 26, from an original handful of cases a week ago.
The nation announced a week ago that all of its offices would temporarily close for two weeks, following identification of several cases in the community, including three among employees of the Squamish Nation.
The vast majority of the cases are in North and West Vancouver, although there have been cases in all of the nation’s reserves, including in the Squamish Valley.
All of the cases are linked to the original cluster, believed to have originated in one or two households in X̱wemelch’stn (the Capilano Reserve.)
On Friday, the nation’s administration coordinated delivery of care packages to the homes of members, many of whom are self-isolating as they wait for test results.
The packages contained food, including a case a salmon, juice, tea and vitamin drinks, hand sanitizer, soap and crossword puzzles.
The nation was also coordinating pick-up on Monday, Sept. 7 for members who live off reserve.
Additional help – including delivery of masks, prescriptions, and assistance with housing if members need it to self isolate – is also available from the Squamish Nation administration.
Councillor Chris Lewis addressed nation members in series of Facebook Live videos this week, thanking them for their resilience amid the anxiety caused by the outbreak.
“People say these are unprecedented times. And in some ways, that's right. But in some ways, it's not,” he said. “Our people have lived through pandemics. They have lived through times like this. We have many stories from our elders that talk to us about hard times, and times where we had to come together as a people.”
Lewis said he know it’s hard for members of the tight-knit community to have to isolate for two weeks and not see any family members.
“So I'm encouraging all of our members, if you know someone that has been impacted and is self isolating at this time, please reach out to them, let them know that you're there and let them know that they are not alone,” he said.
Lewis said the community has been receiving support from many quarters, including the Haida Nation, who just went through their own outbreak of COVID-19.
“We understand how stressful it is and how difficult the next few weeks and few months can be, and we are offering our assistance to the Squamish, we will share everything we've learned over the course of our own health” to help eliminate the virus, Lewis read from the letter.
“We stand in solidarity with the Squamish Nation. We stand united in the fight against COVID-19. We stand together as indigenous people.”
Lewis encouraged all members of the community to keep their “bubbles” small as the work to break the chains of transmission and contain the number of cases.
“We really want to encourage all nation members to assist in flattening the curve,” he said. “It only takes one other person to make that bubble bigger.”
Lewis said in a tight-knit community with many relations “it can go from a small household of four to five people . . . we can quickly get to 10, 20 or possibly 30.”
The nation is encouraging everyone who is feeling unwell or may have had contact with a positive case of COVID-19 to get tested. Testing is available on the North Shore at the Urgent and Primary Care Centre on Esplanade and at a new testing site in the parking lot of Centennial Theatre on Lonsdale.
The Squamish Nation outbreak is happening at a time when the number of cases has been rising in the Lower Mainland.