STONEY NAKODA – After a small jump in positive COVID-19 cases last month on the three-band, three-reserve Nation, officials are happy to announce the number of active cases in Stoney Nakoda First Nation is back at zero.
“We are happy to report that all cases are now considered recovered," Stoney Tribal Administration CEO Ryan Robb said. "We are like everyone else and cautiously optimistic.”
After going from zero confirmed cases to a total of 19 in a couple of weeks, with the majority in Eden Valley, Robb said officials suspect there was a link to the well-known outbreak at the Cargill meat-processing plan in High River, which was linked to more than 1,500 cases in the Calgary region, including three reported deaths.
“Through working with our health department and education, people were able to keep it contained to a very limited number of houses and as time has progressed, they are all listed as fully recovered,” Robb said.
COVID-19 first hit Alberta in early March with positive cases jumping to more than 6,000 in the province and more than 100 reported deaths after two months. About 70 per cent of confirmed cases were in the Calgary zone.
The Stoney Nakoda First Nation consists of three bands, Wesley, Chiniki and Bearspaw, has three chiefs and three reserve locations, Bighorn, Morley and Eden Valley.
The Bighorn reserve is approximately 160 kilometres north of the more well-known Morley reserve, near Clearwater Country. Eden Valley is located further south, near Longview, Alta and Foothills County. The most recognized reserve location is Morley, approximately 56 kilometres west of Calgary, with borders along the Municipal District of Bighorn, Canmore, Kananaskis Country, Rocky View County and Cochrane.
As bordering municipalities saw increased confirmed cases and the warmer weather brought visitors to the Nation that lies between Calgary and Canmore, officials put out reminders that the reserve is actually private and non-Nation members on the land are trespassing.
“Every time there is a nice weekend, we see an uptick in trespassers especially when the federal and provincial parks are closed,” Robb said.
“We just want to remind people that you can’t just come onto the Nation and go fishing or camping. We have signs at all 20 of our entrances … so just like our friends in Canmore and Banff, we are asking people to respect that it is private land and to not trespass,” Robb said.
As the province announced its relaunch strategy, including reopening provincial parks earlier this month, as well as farmers markets, museums and art galleries, hairstyling and barber shops and cafés, restaurants, pubs and bars at 50 per cent capacity as of May 14 – with the exception of Calgary and Brooks due to higher case numbers – Robb said the Nation’s reopening will also have a staggered approach.
“We will not set a hard date for when each stage kicks in,” Robb said.
“There will be more defined [reopenings] based on what milestones we are at, which right now we are just trying to flush out and are in the process of looking at what our reopen looks like with the best intent of the health and safety and wellness of our members in mind.”
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