State of Emergency declared at Pikwakanagan


Businesses Are Ordered To Close

All businesses were ordered to close immediately in Pikwakanagan today (Tuesday, March 31) following a band council meeting.

It was recommended by Pikwakanagan’s Emergency Response Control Group (EMCG) for the COVID-19 pandemic that a State of Emergency be declared for Pikwakanagan. Effective immediately Wendy Jocko, newly-elected Chief for the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, declared a State of Emergency activating the Pikwakanagan Emergency Response Plan. It was Chief Jocko’s first major challenge to deal with after being elected to the position on the weekend.

The State of Emergency was declared to ensure a proactive approach through the implementation of precautionary measures by the council to protect community members. 

Council ordered all businesses within the community to close effective immediately for an undetermined amount of time. 

A release stated the community has witnessed a significant influx of people in the community, drastically increasing the risk of exposure to its members and front-line workers. 

“A significant number of our members have underlying health conditions (cancer, diabetes, respiratory problems, high blood pressure, etc.,) which puts them at a higher risk of having serious complications from the virus, including death,” the release stated.

Motions have been passed to ensure the safety of Pikwakanagan with regards to non-member/non-resident traffic and to address the lack of social/physical distancing that has been implemented by some businesses and residents. While other First Nation communities in Canada, including Ontario and Quebec, are setting up control check-points, closing down all together, or ordering the closures of all businesses, Pikwakanagan will continue to allow the through traffic provided business owners comply with the order to close immediately. 

Chief and council, along with the Emergency Control Group, will be communicating daily to ensure that the needs of the community are met, and the State of Emergency will be lifted when it is safe to do so. This situation is constantly changing, and it should be expected additional communications will be released frequently to ensure the community remains safe and up-to-date on the evolving situation. 

“In conclusion, the fact remains we cannot prevent the virus from coming to our community, but if we all work together like our ancestors did, we can limit its spread and limit the impacts that we are faced with,” Chief Jocko said.

Following the counting of ballots Sunday morning, the new band council took their seats Monday only to be faced with one of the toughest challenges they will likely deal with in their three-year term.