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#BreakTheChain Issue No. 4 Apr. 16th 2020

Indigenous communities need more federal funding and support to fight COVID-19! Please sign the petition at: change.org Please read the Global News story here: Global News

COVID-19 Information for First Nations Staying the Course: First Nations Adapt to New Realities This is the second in a weekly series, prepared as a free informational tool by Bimaadzwin Inc. Updated as of April 16th, 2020 (Toronto Star)


– COVID-19 and the ongoing outbreak.. – Flattening the curve – initiatives showing positive signs.. – #BreakingTheChain of Transmission.. – Wearing a Mask? Tips for masks - and how to make your own.. – First Nations Governance and COVID-19..

In this Issue…

– Being on the Land during COVID-19.. – Pre-emptive Isolation – protecting remote communities.. – Mental Health Check.. – Resources for Wellness.. – Perspectives – COVID-19’s Silver Lining.. – COVID-19 Initiatives - ConquerCOVID.ca.. – Additional Information from Health Canada..


– COVID-19 is the disease associated to the novel coronavirus that was discovered in late 2019. On March 11th, 2020 – the World Health Organization assessed the COVID-19 outbreak as a global health pandemic.

What is COVID-19?

– COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that impacts the lungs – and can be spread from person-to-person through droplets that leave an infected person when they cough or sneeze, and can stay on surfaces for an extended period of time. Symptoms of COVID-19 have included a cough, high fever, difficulties breathing, and pneumonia in both lungs. – Symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear after someone has been exposed to COVID-19 – and some may not present any symptoms at all. – The best way to protect yourself is to social distance – to stay at least 2m (6ft) away from other people, and to avoid leaving your house for non-essential reasons.


Ongoing COVID-19 Outbreak

– There have been over 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world, with over 130,000 deaths. In Canada, there are currently 27,557 confirmed cases– with 954 deaths across the country (April 15). Cases: 04.15.2020

– All regions of Canada are enforcing social distancing regulations. People are encouraged to stay home, except for going out for necessities like groceries or medication. While going outside to exercise, do not use parks or playgrounds – stick to trails and footpaths. Stay at least 2m (6ft) away from those who do not live with you while out exercising. – People are encouraged to not visit each other’s houses – and to not allow visitors into their own homes. Although this distancing is difficult for everyone, it is a necessary step to protect the health and safety of everyone. This is a challenging time for everyone. If you need to talk to someone – the Hope for Wellness Helpline (1-855-242-3310) is available in English, French, Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut. Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) is also available for those 5-29 years old.


Countries around the globe are facing similar challenges with the spread of COVID-19 – however, those countries who have enforced strict social distancing guidelines have started to see their curves flatten.

Flattening the Curve

It appears that Canada’s initiatives have started to work on a large scale – however, particular communities or environments are still facing an urgent crisis. Ontario has announced that the spread of COVID-19 appears to be stable enough to start moving resources from Hospitals to Long-Term Care Homes – where the spread of COVID-19 is significant.

This does not mean that we can let up what we are doing – it is simply a sign that what we are doing is working, and that we need to continue our efforts. We are standing united – by staying apart.


– The COVID-19 Global Health Pandemic has been compared to a war – a fight where it is us against an invisible enemy – and one where everyone has a responsibility to help Break the Chain of Transmission. – The SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 spreads from person-toperson from droplets that we cough, sneeze, or breathe out. This is why social distancing is the best strategy we have to fight the virus – it stops it from continuing onto a new host, and spreading to more people. – Other ways people can help #BreaktheChain:

#BreakTheChain of Transmission

– Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds – or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; – Do not touch your face – we touch so many surfaces every day, some of which may not have been properly cleaned. If that surface has been contaminated with COVID-19, you will only catch it by transferring the virus to your nose or mouth by touching your face. If you need to itch – wash your hands first! – Stay at Home – don’t leave unless you have to – try to limit going out for groceries to once a week, and going out for exercise once a day – but only stay with people from your immediate household while out in public – stay 2m (6ft) away from others – Wear a Mask – the Public health Agency of Canada now recommends wearing a mask while out in public, even if it is just a cloth face covering. Although this does not necessarily protect the person wearing the mask, it protects others if they are spreading the virus while not showing symptoms.


Wearing a Mask?

– Wearing a mask is a good way to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Wearing a mask – a cloth facial covering, or a non-medical mask – in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing the mask, and is not a substitute to social distancing and hand washing. – However, wearing a mask can be an additional measure you can take to protect others around you, even if you have no symptoms of COVID-19. It can be useful for short periods of time, when physical distancing is not possible – like at a grocery store, or while taking public transit. – It’s important to note that actual surgical masks – including the N95 respirator masks – should not be used by everyday individuals in the community, and should be left to medical professionals and others who do require the additional level of protection. – There is currently a global shortage of the N95 masks – if you, or your organization has access to masks that you are not using during this time – consider making a donation to your local nursing station or health authority.


Make Your Own Mask!

Health Canada has provided Canadians with three ways to make their own masks – from fabric, an old t-shirt, and a bandana! Check out these diagrams to make your own masks:


Alternate Methods:


Tips for Wearing a Mask

– If you choose to use a non-medical face mask: – you must wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off (in addition to practicing good hand hygiene while wearing it) – it should fit well (non-gaping) – you should not share it with others – Face masks can become contaminated on the outside, or when touched by your hands. When wearing a mask, take the following precautions to protect yourself: – avoid touching your face mask while using it – change a cloth mask as soon as it gets damp or soiled – put it directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine and then disposed of – cloth masks can be laundered with other items using a hot cycle, and then dried thoroughly.


First Nations Governance and COVID-19

– The COVID-19 outbreak is presenting a number of new challenges for the leadership of our nations. In addition to the normal responsibilities of providing guidance and governance to our nations, leaders are now required to respond and prepare for the evolving realities of this global health crisis. – Some communities have implemented State of Emergencies, with restrictions like: – Echoing the calls for social distancing in the communities, – Limiting the number of people who can gather; – Stopping visitors from entering the community, and limiting the travel to regional centres; and – Providing emergency supplies to their members.

– Reach out to your nation to find out what services are available. Bimaadzwin is available to assist communities in developing their response programs to the ongoing crisis. Reach out for more information.


Indigenous peoples have a special relationship to the land – being the source of our spiritual, mental, and physical wellbeing. In Northern Ontario – the Nishnawbe Aski Nation is encouraging members to be on the land during the pandemic, and have prepared these guidelines to help individuals hunt, gather fish, and harvest in a safe way.

Being on the Land

Planning for being on the land: - If you are sick, stay home; - If you have been asked to self-isolate, don’t go; - Plan to go as a household, and not a large group; - Tell someone where you are going, who is going, when you’re coming back – in case help is needed; - Make sure you have an evacuation plan if someone gets sick; - Pick a location that is easy to evacuate from, if needed. While on the land: - Cover your cough; - Avoid touching your face; - Bring hand sanitizer, and keep your hands clean; - Look out for the symptoms of COVID-19 o Fever o Cough o Difficulty Breathing - If anyone starts showing symptoms of COVID-19, seek medical care immediately.


– The case of Eabametoong First Nation in Northern Ontario – the first remote community in the region to have a confirmed case of COVID-19 – speaks to the importance of organizing self-isolation outside of the community for those remote communities.

Pre-emptive Isolation: Line of Defense for Remote Communities

– Eabametoong – a fly-in community of 1,600, about 300kms northeast of Thunder Bay – had an individual who arrived in the community from Thunder Bay at the end of March, went into self-isolation at home, and later tested positive for COVID-19. There was a delay in testing and contact tracing in the days since – and the community is still awaiting test results from Winnipeg. It is unsure if there has been spread – but if one or more tests return positive – the Chief says that Ontario and Canada have no plans to help the community face the pandemic. – Nunavut – Canada’s largest, and most remote territory – has instigated mandatory self-isolation in a hotel in a southern urban centre for 14-days before returning to Nunavut. This has resulted in the territory maintaining zero cases of COVID-19 – however, there are concerns about the procedure and supports for families while in isolation. – These two cases demonstrate that implementing social isolation in an regional centre, and organizing clean transportation after the 14-day period is an intensive but effective way to protect remote communities without cases.


– We find ourselves in unprecedented times – with everyday bringing new reports of COVID-19 cases and loss of life. Our chief medical officers are doing incredible work attempting to slow the spread of COVID-19, including putting forward guidelines to stay at home, and restricting public gatherings.

Mental Health Check

– However, we are social creatures by nature – and following these important guidelines will obviously result in a decrease in social interactions, and will likely have a negative impact on our mental health. – With that in mind – here are some suggestions to help you balance our social health with your own mental health: – Put structure into your day – try to build a new routine and a new normal for the time being, it will help time pass – and help you make sure you're taking care of yourself. – Don’t shut yourself away – social distancing and self-isolation doesn’t mean losing all contact, don’t forget to call or text those you love. – Get Active – find some time to go for a walk, or break out the old bike – quarantine shouldn’t mean staying immobile. – Find new ways to communicate – try FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or other methods to keep in touch with those you love!


The mental health commission of Canada has put together a lot of good information and tips to help you find wellness and balance during this difficult time. They have also compiled a list of important resources for different groups, some of which are listed below. Check out their website for more information! Mental Health Commission of Canada - COVID-19 Resources – Government of Canada COVID-19 information: – Health Canada - COVID-19

Resources for Wellness

– Resources for College and University Students:

– Canadian Association of College and University Student Services

– Impacts of COVID-19 on Substance Abuse:

– Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction

– Resources for mental health workers giving back to front line service providers: – Canadian Psychological Association

– COVID-19 and support services for seniors: – CHAMPLAIN Community Health Services


– The COVID-19 crisis is an unprecedented time in human history – the speed at which the entire world has come to a slow – and the immediate impact on every single person’s life has never been something that we’ve experienced like this before. The world in 2020 was the most interconnected it had ever been – and now it feels as if that has been ripped from our hands.

Perspectives: COVID-19’s Silver Lining

– However, there is still light in this darkness – a common feeling that when things go back to ‘normal’, what we will return to will be better than what we had before. Although this might not seem obvious – there is always a strength that grows in times of incredible challenge. – This this time, we standing united by being divided – each person taking the health and safety of others into consideration when they stay at home, wear a mask, or make a donation to a community organization. We are building a sense of resiliency – built from our shared perseverance during this time – keeping each other strong from a distance, so that one day we can be strong together. – In time – we will beat this, and we will be able to come together again. We will mourn what we have lost – and take the time to heal together. We will persevere, we will overcome, and we will all stand together one day – stronger than we had been before.


COVID-19 Initiatives

There are a number of grassroots initiatives aimed at helping communities across Canada prepare and respond to the changing realities of COVID-19. – One such initiative is Conquer COVID-19 – which is comprised of physicians, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and other volunteers who are working together to ensure frontline workers responsible for the health and wellbeing of Canadians have access to masks, gloves, and other supplies that are essential in treating patients and minimizing the spread of the virus. Check out their website for more information – or to see how you might be able to help!


Additional Information from Health Canada…


Stay Informed: Health Canada App

– Health Canada is the best source of information on the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Their website has up-to-date information on the current cases, government response, and how to best protect yourself. https://www.canada.ca/en/publichealth/services/diseases/2019-novelcoronavirus-infection.html – Health Canada has also developed an app that includes updates, protection measures, and a self-assessment tool. Download their app from the iOS or Android App Stores.


Miigwetch This information has been brought to you as a free public service by:

The content of this presentation is for informational purposes only. Those who may have come into contact with COVID-19, or who have symptoms must self-isolate and call their health authority. This presentation was developed to assist First Nation citizens and governments in understanding and responding to the growing crisis. Information contained in this presentation is accurate as of April 16th, 2020.

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