In a release sent morning of March 30th, the government of the NWT in association with the Indigenous leaders and Indigenous Services Canada, announced $2.6 million in federal funding to help Indigenous families who are choosing to be on the land as part of the territory’s response to COVID-19.
The funding is set to be allocated to Akaitcho Territory Government, Dehcho First Nations, Gwich’in Tribal Council, NCR#10451332 – v1A, NWT Métis Nation, Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated, Tłı̨chǫ Government, K’atl’odeeche First Nation, Acho Dene Koe First Nation, Salt River First Nation and Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government
The statement then goes to explain how many families in the Northwest Territories have already begun to move onto the land to cabins and camps where they can maintain safer physical distances than if they were to remain in their home communities.
The funding is meant to alleviate the stress encountered due to how conventional physical distancing measures, like staying at home, can have detrimental health effects in some Indigenous communities where housing can be overcrowded.
When equipped with the proper supplies and equipment, going on the land in small groups is a positive and healthy form of physical distancing and an important measure in preventing and reducing the spread of the virus.
In the statement government officials ask harvesters to keep in mind the advice of co-management partners and engage in safe and responsible harvesting practices when out on the land:
• Be prepared, dress for the conditions and bring a communications device
• Always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back
• Harvest only what you need
NWT Premier Caroline Cochrane ends the statement saying;
“Strong, collective action from all levels of government based on recommendations from the Chief Public Health Officer will help all of us mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in our communities. Being on the land is a way of life for many northerners and a good way to slow the spread of this virus. By all of us working together, we will make a difference in how COVID-19 impacts our own families, our neighbours and all residents of the Northwest Territories.”NWT Premier Caroline Cochrane