The first education summit convened by the Dene Nation became the latest event postponed over concerns about the growing coronavirus pandemic.
Planned for March 17 and 18, Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya had previously said the summit would discuss “Indigenous governance and Dene jurisdiction of education moving forward.”
The summit was to have been hosted by the K’atl’odeeche First Nation.
However, on Wednesday, the Dene Nation said the event would now be moved to an as-yet unspecified later date.
“Although there are no confirmed cases in the Northwest Territories and the risk remains low, it important we remain vigilant as cases continue to rise across Canada,” said Yakeleya in a statement.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and plan for a future date where Dene Nation leadership can gather as we move forward on our shared vision for Dene education in the North.”
The Dene Nation’s statement noted: “Many First Nations live in overcrowded housing and lack suitable ventilation which can facilitate the spread of respiratory and viral infections.
“Elders and young children are most vulnerable to an outbreak, as well those whose immune systems are compromised due to other preexisting health conditions.”
Expressing “grave concern” at the lack of full-time nurses in some smaller NWT communities, the Dene Nation said it would now “engage the GNWT … to develop a response plan that will ensure all citizens are safe and have access to services.”