Indigenous leaders call for rapid testing and screening of visitors in their territory

A photo of Dr. Judith Sayers in Nuu-Chul-Nulth regalia
Judith Sayers, Nuu-Chul-Nulth Tribal Council President. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Island University.
Lisa Cordasco - CHLY - NanaimoBC | 03-09-2020
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Indigenous leaders call for rapid testing for COVID-19 in their territories

There are 89 more cases of COVID-19 in BC today and one more death at a long term care home. The death toll now stands at 210. There were no new cases of the virus reported in the Island Health Region; however, a new case that was confirmed earlier this week in a first nation community near Gold River has indigenous leaders worried about the future. In June, the Nu-Chul-Nulth Tribal Council called for rapid testing and screening of visitors in its territory. It also asked for training and implementation of culturally safe contact tracing and a protocol to inform the nations if a COVID-19 case is nearby. Tribal Council president Judith Sayers says none of that has happened.

"We still would really like these four requirements put in place immediately or as soon as they possibly can. And we certainly want them to act soon. I mean, in Haida Gwaii, they had to wait for an outbreak before shutting it down, " said Sayers, Nu-Chul-Nulth Tribal Council President.

Sayers believes communities could avoid being shut down if the tribal council's four requirements are acted on.

Minister of Education sticking to directions given by Provincial Health Officer for classrooms

The Minister of Education is rejecting calls to order school districts to ensure physical distancing in classrooms. Rob Flemming says he's sticking with the advice given by Dr. Bonnie Henry that physical distancing is not required in BC classrooms. The BC Teachers Federation has asked Flemming to order districts to spend $243 million dollars worth of federal funding on reducing class size. Flemming is refusing to make that order.

"This funding will be used in different ways by different school districts based on what their priorities are for additional resources for COVID safety. They are going to receive per-pupil money that we are directing from the federal government to match the original provincial investment for them to use on health and safety and learning priorities in their district," said Flemming.

The province has already allocated $46 and a half million dollars in extra funding to school districts to implement COVID safety measures in their back to school plans. However, the secretary-treasurer of the Nanaimo Ladysmith School District told trustees at a meeting last night that the money allocated by the province has not been enough to cover all of its COVID related expenses.

Ian Hargreaves to resign from Comox Valley School Board

The Chair of the Comox Valley School Board has resigned, saying it had become clear his vision for the board was not consistent with that of a majority of trustees. Ian Hargreaves made the announcement at the school board meeting on Tuesday night. He also criticized board members for ignoring staff advice or leaving public meetings when a vote did not go their way. He said the friction had taken a toll on his health and resignation was his only option. In his parting remarks, Hargreaves said “This board is dysfunctional and has lost its focus… the problem is not at the board office but at the board table.”