By Victoria Gray
Three members of the community have passed away due to complications from COVID-19 this month.
Nations Elected Council (SNEC) confirmed the deaths on January 13 in a statement giving condolences for the three deaths that occurred on January 9, 10th, but they were notified in the evening on January 12.
“Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council would like to send their deepest condolences to the families of these community members, and continue to think of all who have lost a loved one to this pandemic,” the statement said. “SNGREC would also like to commend the staff of Iroquois Lodge who work diligently and tirelessly to keep their residents safe and healthy.”
One of those who succumbed to the virus was a resident at the Iroquois Lodge, which is currently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak that includes 30 residents. All residents have received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Six Nations Elected Councillor Nathan Wright, who is chairing meetings in elected chief Mark Hill’s unexplained absence, told the community, at the council meeting on January 11 and in his radio update on January 12, that the “majority” of residents were “asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms.” He did not mention members of the lodge were in the hospital, but said a critical care nurse was at the lodge “checking them out” and making sure residents were getting the proper care.
Six Nations elected councillors brought in Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist from the University of Toronto and the Toronto general Hospital to answer questions on COVID-19 to both councillors and community members at Six Nations Elected Council’s general council meeting on January 11.
The community has lost 18 community members to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. The community has never had three people die in the span of two weeks, but the last death was November 18.
Since the beginning of the pandemic Indigenous Nations were warned COVID-19 may affect First Nations members differently and may lead to more severe illness, which is why Indigenous populations were deemed a vulnerable population and given priority status for the COVID-19 vaccine.
There are currently 81 active cases on Six Nations and 357 people in self-isolation. Three community members are in the hospital.
There have been 136 COVID-19 cases reported in the last seven days, 22 people have self-reported a positive case after a rapid test. SNEC councillor Nathan Wright said at their council meeting on Jan. 11 the number of positive cases is likely much higher.
The vaccination rate on the territory is 50 per cent with to doses and about 55 per cent with one dose. SNEC is urging members to get vaccinated and to self-isolate if experiencing symptoms, or come in contact with a positive case.
Indigenous Services Canada confirmed that SNEC asked for rapid tests and said an undisclosed amount was already delivered. Wright has said they are still waiting for delivery of a full order, which is 3,000 to ensure all residents have rapid tests available as well as N95 masks.
SNEC is asking people to continue following public health guidelines that include wearing a medical-grade mask KN95 or N95 iff possible, frequently wash or sanitize hands, social distance, avoid large crowds and get three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 tests and vaccines can be booked online at www.sixnationscovid19.ca. Walk-in vaccines are also available for all stages of vaccination (over age 18) from Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Dajoh Youth and Elders Centre on Fourth Line.
Anyone who is struggling with mental health and needs support is encouraged call the Six Nations Mobile Crisis Line, available 24/7 at 519-445-2204 or 1-866-445-2204.