Coronavirus: Curve Lake First Nation using coloured-flag system for residents to request help

Curve Lake First Nation Chief Emily Whetung discusses a new flag system for residents to use during the coronavirus pandemic. Facebook video

Curve Lake First Nation says its coloured-flag system has been working well to help protect residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

During a media conference hosted by Peterborough Public Health, Curve Lake First Nation Chief Emily Whetung says the flag system implemented late last week involves residents posting coloured pieces of paper in their windows, explaining the colour depends on their request or necessity.

“It will keep our community members who need to self-isolate to truly self-isolate,” said Whetung.

READ MORE: Assembly of First Nations declares national state of emergency over COVID-19 pandemic

Residents can use the coloured pieces of paper or whatever coloured item they like, such as a T-shirt, Whetung explained. The items are hung in the windows to let the First Nation staff and volunteers know of any requests.

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The colour system includes:

  • White — Everyone is OK
  • Blue — Water
  • Yellow — Food required
  • Red — Sick, but it’s not an emergency
  • Green — Need help, but it’s not health-related

“I’d like to share some pride in my community for pulling together and really taking care of each other — which, by all accounts, is how we’ll get through this,” she said.

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Whetung says residents are also encouraged to keep an eye on their neighbours to either assist if they see a coloured flag or let First Nation staff know of the request if they might have missed it.

“If you know your neighbour needs water, you can drop off a case on their front porch,” she said. “It’s all about taking care of each other and bringing the community together.”

Whetung says Curve Lake followed suit after other First Nations across the country began using the flag system. She says so far, the system is running “fairly smoothly.”

“We are a smaller community so we have the ability to reach out by phone, for the most part, to check in on people and see what’s going on,” said Whetung.

“It’s running fairly smoothly,” she said. “There are a number of First Nations across the country doing this right now. I don’t know where it started but that a lot of First Nations are doing it.”

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On Wednesday, Peterborough Public Health reported 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its jurisdiction, which includes Curve Lake First Nation.

“The fact that this virus is tracked primarily with the elderly is a big a concern for my community,” said Whetung. “We’re also at high risk because of diabetes rates and health issues in our community.

“Our elders are our language keepers and our knowledge keepers, so if we were to lose five or six elders in our community, that could potentially wipe out entire language or take a big chunk of that cultural knowledge away. So we are doing everything we can to protect our elders and support them by staying home and getting them what they need.”

The First Nation has also launched a food drive, requesting any harvested traditional meats which can be dropped off Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon at the public works building.

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