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Coronavirus
Sahtu

‘We need help,’ Chief of Fort Good Hope declares during outbreak


Tommy Kakfwi, the Chief of Fort Good Hope, said his community declared a state of emergency on Monday and urgently needs more help to get through its Covid-19 outbreak. 

Speaking with Cabin Radio on Tuesday morning, Kakfwi said Fort Good Hope was “in dire need of the government’s resources and they’re silent right now.”

“The health centre is understaffed, and we need help,” he said.  

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“We need help on policing to make sure that everybody complies with the protocol that’s in place.” 

Fort Good Hope and nearby Colville Lake are under a 10-day containment order banning all indoor gatherings, limiting outdoor gatherings to members of the same household only, and closing non-essential businesss.

Fort Good Hope had reported more than 20 positive tests for Covid-19 by Monday evening, far more than any other NWT community.

Kakfwi called the number of cases in the community “staggering.”

Sonny James Gully, a 22-year-old Fort Good Hope resident, said his family was going through “mental stress” as the community dealt with the outbreak – which began at a hand games event from August 5 to 9 – and its ramifications.

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Gully, speaking while waiting to be tested and vaccinated on Monday afternoon, said there was lots of stress and tension in the community of around 500 people.

Kakfwi, describing the impact on the municipality as staff are forced to isolate in connection with the outbreak, said “everybody wants things done very quickly and we’re limited in our resources.”

Hiring additional municipal workers is a pressing concern, he said, to “bring a degree of stability to the community.” 

Drivers who operate water and sewage trucks are now in isolation and replacement drivers need to be hired, he said, providing one example.

Cases beyond Sahtu

Officials are now calling this month’s Fort Good Hope hand games tournament a superspreader event.

While most confirmed Covid-19 diagnoses are in the Sahtu, six involve people in Yellowknife who were in Fort Good Hope at the time.

The territorial government on Monday shared a growing list of public exposure notices for a list of locations in Délı̨nę, Fort Good Hope, and Yellowknife.

Joseph Kochon, senior administrative officer for Colville Lake, said he was worried about the small community’s Elders but otherwise felt Coville Lake is well-supported.

“It’s kind-of overwhelming to think about it in a small community. There was a doctor here talking about something like this and it is happening now. It’s really happening,” he said.

“Everybody’s calling to support us, so that’s a good thing.”

Kakfwi, meanwhile, worried about the cost of supporting people in isolation and ensuring everyone is fed.

The Dene Nation on Monday said it was postponing Sahtu meetings related to caribou preservation but would instead redirect some $7,500 in groceries and freight to the K’asho Got’ine Elders Meals on Wheels program. 

“Our commitment is to rapid response to the needs of our people,” the Dene Nation said in a news release. 

Kakfwi said the donation would help Elders and those in isolation, while additional rapid testing kits had also been received from the Town of Norman Wells.

“We will overcome this,” said Kakfwi.

“I have strong people here in the community. It’s just surprising when I come into situations like this that the community puts their differences aside, and deal with the situation.

“And for that I am blessed to have those people in my community.”

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