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Nisga’a government declares local state of emergency as COVID-19 cases rise

Nass Valley - Indigenous Tourism BC
The Nass Valley in northwest B.C. includes the Nisga'a Nation territory. (via Indigenous Tourism BC)

Nisga’a Nation declared a state of local emergency on Nov. 26 amid rising COVID-19 cases and an exposure in the Nisga’a Elementary-Secondary School community.

Six school-aged children have tested positive for the virus.

Other positive cases are linked to two family gatherings in Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh).

As of Nov. 29, Nisga’a Valley Health Authority (NVHA) has confirmed 31 positive COVID-19 tests.

“We are all in this together,” said Eva Clayton, Nisga’a Lisims president in a news release. “We must follow all provincial and Nisga’a health orders to ensure we stop further spread of this serious virus.”

Until Dec. 10, entrance to Gitlaxt’aamiks will only be allowed from 8 a.m. to midnight — security personnel are monitoring the entrance to the village and patrolling the village from midnight to 7 a.m.

According to a Nov. 26 Gitlaxt’aamiks Village Government communique, family gatherings and house-parties are prohibited and all offices, churches, and the recreation centre are closed.

Masks are mandatory in the village and visitors to Gitlaxt’aamiks are prohibited.

The communique states that the majority of COVID-19 cases in the Nass Valley are in Gitlaxt’aamiks and that house parties continue to be a concern.

“We are meeting regularly and undertaking comprehensive COVID-19 management action,” said Brandi Trudell-Davis, NVHA chief executive officer in the Nov. 26 release.

“We look to our Nation, communities, families and individuals to actively take precautionary measures to stop the spread. We are all in this together and and it is the only way we will all get through this.”

NVHA is working with the Northern Health Authority to monitor and trace COVID-19 cases.