COVID-19 outbreak at Siksika First Nation closes schools, daycare, homeless shelter

An increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Siksika First Nation has caused the closure of schools, a homeless shelter and a daycare. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Siksika First Nation has closed its schools, homeless shelter and daycare amid an outbreak of COVID-19 that has seen the total number of cases spike over the past few days.

The nation tweeted Tuesday the risk level had reached RED — High Risk, after reporting a total of 14 active COVID-19 cases being managed by Siksika Health, compared to just two on Saturday.

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Speaking to Global News, Chief Ouray Crowfoot said the tight-knit nature of the Siksika community makes for a higher risk of transmission.

“The risk is higher for that to go from zero to 20 cases in a matter of a few days so we are doing more precautionary measures,” Crowfoot said.

“A lot of our households have multi-generational families so you might have a two-year-old and a 90-year-old and all ages in between in the same household.

“It’s hard to social distance when you have overcrowding and multi-generations in one household.”

He said the nation has brought in more mental health supports to help those who are struggling through self-isolation.

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“When you start talking about self-isolating and being contained for multiple days and weeks at a time and that does weigh on you,” he said.

The outbreak has caused the temporary closure or shutdown of several facilities.

Siksika Daycare Centre temporarily closed

To help curb the spread of COVID-19, Siksika Family Services Corporation (SFSC) announced on Tuesday it closed the Siksika Daycare Centre from Nov. 3 to Nov. 6.

According to a release, the daycare is tentatively scheduled to reopen on Nov. 9.

“The Siksika Daycare staff have already initiated cleaning protocols and will reopen when it’s deemed safe to do so under the direction of the Siksika Family Services Management,” the release stated.

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Siksika Shelter Centre temporarily closes its doors

The spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases at Siksika First Nation has also prompted the SFSC to temporarily shut down its homeless shelter, the Siksika Shelter Centre, which will be closed Nov. 3 and 4.

In a release, the SFSC said staff are in the process of cleaning the shelter and will reopen it when it’s deemed safe to do so.

“Siksika Health Services is working diligently to contain further spread and to support all families who are affected by COVID-19,” the release stated.

Siksika Board of Education Schools closed this week

Officials announced on Tuesday that all Siksika Board of Education schools would be closed for the remainder of the week due to the increased risk of transmission of COVID-19.

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Operations and maintenance staff will conduct a “thorough deep cleaning and sanitization while the schools are vacant,” a release stated.

The schools included in the closure are Chief Old Sun School, Chief Crowfoot School, Siksika Outreach and Siksika Nation High School.

Siksika Elders Lodge no longer accepting visitors

The Siksika Elders Lodge announced on Tuesday it was temporarily suspending visits from the public.

“Siksika Elders Lodge staff continue to ensure that the residents’ comfort and safety are prioritized during this recent COVID-19 outbreak,” a release stated. “There has been no contact with positive individuals at the Elder’s Lodge.”

Officials said access to the facility and the ground is being strictly controlled by lodge management and is limited to resident, staff and essential health care providers.

Siksika Nation Tribal Administration closed

On Tuesday, the Siksika Tribal Manager announced the decision to close the Siksika Nation Tribal Administration from Nov. 3 – 6 with the exception of essential services including public works, housing, justice, treasury and emergency management.

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How to seek help if you live in Siksika First Nation

COVID-19 testing in Siksika is available via drive-thru between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily, or by calling the COVID-19 Response Unit (CRU) at 403-734-5688 seven days a week.

Anyone dealing with emotional stress or anxiety can call 403-734-5660 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday – Friday to confidentially speak with a Siksika Health Services mental health therapist.

– With files from Jill Croteau

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