Travel may be restricted as a result of COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped communities in the North from taking advantage of the benefits that come from owning an RV.

Recently, Eagles Lake First Nation – a sub-reserve of Canoe Lake Cree First Nation located about 10 kilometres east of Meadow Lake – received one of the many RVs donated by the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan to the newly established Joint Leadership Group of Métis communities, municipal governments and First Nations which was formed to address COVID-19 in the region. The plan is to utilize the vehicle as a mobile isolation unit as needed.

“We don’t have any facilities at Eagles Lake which can be used as isolation units, but this RVs will be of great value if the virus is ever identified there,” explained Canoe Lake chief Francis Iron. “At Canoe Lake we have our own facilities prepped and ready to go, but we have been very fortunate this far and have had zero cases of COVID-19 here or on our sub-reserve.”

According to Rick Laliberte, head of the leadership group’s incident command centre in Beauval, 25 RVs were initially donated followed by an additional 10.

“They can and are being used as personal isolation units for people who are recovering from COVID-19 and who normally live in overcrowded houses,” Laliberte said. “When the RVs first arrived, they were a godsend because they arrived in La Loche at the same time medical teams were first arriving to help with the outbreak.”

The RVs, Laliberte said, provided medical workers with a place to stay while reducing their risk of contracting the virus.

“A number of our community members also still work in the oil sand camps and, when they come home, they need to self-isolate,” Laliberte added. “They can’t go home, especially if they live in overcrowded homes.”

Meanwhile, Iron went on to express how much it means to him and to his community to be able to have access to one of the RVs and to see such strong support throughout the region.

“It means a lot,” he said. “We feel for each of our neighbouring communities and everything they are going through right now. It truly shows we, as First Nations, Métis communities and municipalities, can work together as one and can stick together during these difficult times.”

Laliberte agreed.

“This speaks to the incident command structure and how we operate without jurisdiction barriers,” he said. “We work seamlessly with each other. We started March 30 and are still holding strong. We’re controlling the outbreak, but are still having issues with early identification. One thing for sure, though, is 100 per cent of COVID-19 cases are sent home, and that’s what the essence of these RVs is all about – providing some relief for the anxiety that can go along with worrying about making your family and loved ones sick.”

by Phil Ambroziak

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