The chiefs from all four First Nations that make up Maskwacis - Samson, Ermineskin, Louis Bull and Montana - were on hand March 25 to announce the invoking of a special clause in Treaty 6 to declare a state of emergency in the community. Photo submitted

The chiefs from all four First Nations that make up Maskwacis - Samson, Ermineskin, Louis Bull and Montana - were on hand March 25 to announce the invoking of a special clause in Treaty 6 to declare a state of emergency in the community. Photo submitted

Maskwacis Four Nations facing potential food, medicine, disinfectant shortages

Alberta’s Indigenous Affairs Minister Rick Wilson comments on situation

A state of emergency has been instituted on the four First Nations that make up Maskwacis.

The declaration was agreed to on March 22, but officially made public on March 24 when the chiefs from Samson Cree Nation, Ermineskin Cree Nation, Louis Bull Tribe and Montana Band held a press conference to talk about the move.

READ MORE: Maskwacis First Nations declare state of emergency

What makes the declaration unique is that the First Nations have activated the famine and pestilence clause in Treaty 6 — known as the ‘Medicine Chest’ clause.

“We have not seen a threat like COVID-19 in any of our lifetimes. Our people are no strangers to pestilence and hardship. Our people have survived, and we will continue to survive through this, but it will take the effort of all of us. Historically, our people were vulnerable to threats like COVID-19,” said Ermineskin Cree Nation Chief Craig Makinaw at the press conference.

“Today, we are still vulnerable. We need the tools to keep our people safe. We need the means to plank the curve and save lives. Make no mistake. This is what our common goal is today — to save lives. This is our Treaty right. We must be given adequate resources that were guaranteed.”

He added there are large families crammed into inadequate housing on Maskwacis and that an infection can spread quickly in that environment.

“I cannot understate the importance of practicing social distancing. Please stay home. Do not go visiting. Only go out for necessities. Keep yourself and your family safe by staying home. It will be difficult, but this is our new normal until the threat of COVID-19 has passed,” he said.

All four chiefs called on the federal government to uphold the treaties to help keep everyone safe. This includes a call for immediate funding and resources to sustain the health of the more than 18,000 people that make up the four First Nations.

“It is our collective responsibility to act and to keep our Nations safe. It is time to demonstrate strength,” Makinaw said.

Meanwhile, all four First Nations offices have either been closed or had their operational hours severely reduced until at least April 3. However, all essential services will continue in order to maintain their operations.

Aside from the issues surrounding the lack of proper medical treatment facilities to combat the virus and the need for financial assistance, the state of emergency will hopefully ensure an adequate supply of food and disinfectants.

At present, the Samson Cree Nation is facilitating the distribution of food and sanitation packages to its elders and most vulnerable people.

Food Package Deliveries tomorrow!!!Our first 100 Food packages will be delivered on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at…

Posted by Samson Cree Nation on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

And that is where the province is stepping up with some assurances.

“Our priority is to ensure everyone is safe and to see what we can do to top up any programs available,” said Alberta’s Indigenous Affairs Minister Rick Wilson in a phone interview on March 25.

“I have been in constant contact with the four Maskwacis First Nations and interacting with them regarding the delivery of food, medicine, grants and community support services,” he said.

“Food is a huge concern, mainly due to people panic buying and hoarding supplies. There is no need to do that and we know that the supply chain is intact.”

Wilson added one big issue is that, while there are a tremendous amount of supplies to be shipped to Alberta, there are no back-hauls for the trucks. That means companies and drivers are losing money running empty trucks one-way.

“So, as a province, we are looking at coming up with some sort of relief to help companies deal with that,” said Wilson.

“Our First Nations communities are no different than any other community in Alberta. We encourage people to adhere to social distancing and any other health directives to slow the potential spread and affects.”

More information about the Maskwacis response is available by going to the Facebook page for each First Nation or their various social media channels.

CoronavirusMaskwacis

Just Posted

Alberta continues to wrestle with high COVID-19 case numbers. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer up to 858 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports additional 1,799 cases of the virus

ALERT seized drugs and a variety of guns from a home in Lacombe on May 5 after an investigation. (Photo courtesy of ALERT)
Guns and drugs seized in Lacombe

Lacombe Police Service and ALERT worked together in a joint investigation

Best of Lacombe
Vote for the Best of Lacombe Readers’ Choice Awards 2021

Vote until June 6th, and the results will be published June 24th, 2021

Karlee Prins standing in front of Lacombe City Cinema. (Photo Submitted)
Lacombe resident creates Go Fund Me page to help ailing Lacombe City Cinema

Karlee Prins created a Go Fund Me Page the help the local theatre and family who own it

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Trudeau is rejecting accusations from Alberta’s justice minister that his federal government is part of a trio rooting for that province’s health system to collapse due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta justice minister sorry for saying feds, others rooting for COVID disaster

Earlier Tuesday, prior to Madu’s apology, Trudeau rejected the accusations

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris. Questions remained Wednesday about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, as Manitoba limited use of the shot and Ontario announced it planned to save an incoming shipment to use as second doses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
Questions remain about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in Canada

More than two million Canadians have received AstraZeneca and 17 have been confirmed to have VITT

Lumber is shown in the back of a van in this recent image provided by the Saskatoon Police Service. The skyrocketing prices for lumber is fuelling a trend that has authorities across the country warning builders to keep their guard up. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Saskatoon Police Service-Const. Derek Chesney *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It is a gold mine:’ Builders warned of rising lumber thefts across Canada

Many North American mills curtailed production temporarily earlier in 2020 because of COVID lockdowns

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Trudeau is rejecting accusations from Alberta’s justice minister that his federal government is part of a trio rooting for that province’s health system to collapse due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau rejects Alberta cabinet minister accusation PM wants COVID-19 health disaster

Alberta has recently had COVID-19 case rates that are the highest in North America

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division headquarters in Surrey, B.C., on Friday, April 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Jewish group extremely disturbed by reports of Hitler Youth flags in Alberta towns

RCMP spoke to the property owner, who refused to remove the flag

Alberta’s environment department has known for years that toxins from old coal mines are contaminating populations of the province’s official animal, the bighorn sheep. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Craig Bihrl
Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium, scientist says

Jeff Kneteman says Alberta Environment has known about the problem in bighorn sheep for years

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives his COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccination in Ottawa, Friday, April 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
75% of Canadians need 1st vaccine dose to have more normal summer: Trudeau

The country is on track to hit a major milestone on the road to COVID-19 herd immunity Tuesday, with 40% vaccinated with a 1st dose

Most Read