Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Chief Steve Smith during a panel discussion regarding Bill C-17 on Dec.15, 2017. CAFN have become the latest government to declare a state of emergency in light of COVID-19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Champagne and Aishihik First Nations declare state of emergency

The Champagne and Aishihik First Nations have become the latest government to declare a state of emergency in light of COVID-19.

Chief Steve Smith made the declaration April 7 and in a statement said that it gives the government the ability to act quickly and put in measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to citizens and settlement land. The declaration is valid for 60 days.

“CAFN has the authority to take emergency measures under our Self Government Agreement, our inherent right to self-government and under the CAFN Constitution,” he said in the statement.

Council may issue CAFN emergency orders that vary in different communities “depending on the specific needs and concerns of those communities.”

All CAFN citizens are expected to follow public health and safety measures put in place by the federal and territorial government.

“To be clear, the Yukon Government has the right to enforce these orders with fines and imprisonment,” the statement reads. “This applies to all Citizens, including residents on Settlement Lands.”

Citizens are reminded to wash their hands often; stay home and avoid non-essential travel; practise physical distancing of staying at least six feet from other people; self-isolate for 14 days and/or quarantine when leaving or returning to the Yukon or Canada; be vigilant about self-monitoring for symptoms and report any symptoms to 811; and if a citizen or family member has travelled Outside and cannot safely self-isolate at home to email covid19@gov.yk.ca.

It’s also essential, the statement continued, that there’s no gathering with anyone other than household members. With the Easter weekend approaching, citizens are asked to stay home with immediate family and gather remotely with those they may have otherwise spent time together with.

“This is the best way to actively help save lives,” the chief said. “CAFN strongly recommends you enjoy outdoors activities close to home instead of traveling to cabins and remote locations.”

If citizens still choose to visit seasonal cabins and wilderness areas they are asked to isolate there with household members; not gather with anyone outside of the household; practise social distancing and be prepared to be independent by bringing water and supplies.

“Services are not available in our seasonal communities and it is not safe to go to your neighbour’s for supplies or water,” the statement highlighted.

Meanwhile, CAFN government offices and public buildings under the First Nations’ authority are closed until further notice.

With the exception of those providing essential services, all CAFN staff are working from home.

“Each one of us has a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” the statement said. “Prevention is the only medical treatment for COVID-19 at this time. What we do now will help save lives. How we act today will affect how soon we can resume our normal lives. For now, this is the new normal.”

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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