Montana security Nolan Desjarlais and Amber Daychild at security gates and booths on Bobtail Road. (Photo submitted by Chevi Rabbit)

Montana security Nolan Desjarlais and Amber Daychild at security gates and booths on Bobtail Road. (Photo submitted by Chevi Rabbit)

Maskwacis developed comprehensive COVID-19 security measures

By Chevi Rabbit

For Ponoka News

The Four Nations of Maskwacis — Montana, Samson, Ermineskin and Louis Bull — have each developed their own comprehensive security measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Each community has its own interconnected strategy but has a common goal of stopping the spread of the virus.

“I was involved in the initial setup of the Louis Bull First Nations COVID-19 security and I can speak on what we did,” said Chasity Roasting, Louis Bull First Nation health director and director of emergency management (DEM).

“Initially the emergency operational coordinator (EOC) met to discuss what actions needed to be taken at the beginning of the pandemic. We worked with Louis Bull human resources to develop security personnel based on a qualified and certified list,” said Roasting.

A detailed plan was set up to control access points in and out of Louis Bull First Nation. It was decided that 12 roads would remain open and give access to Louis Bull. The Nation also hired 36 trained and qualified COVID-19 security guards to cover for 24 hours, seven days a week security.

The Louis Bull team decided on schedules, set up parameters, purchased security gates, and cement barriers.

“As COVID numbers increased, access points were closed to prevent the community spread of COVID-19. Right now, there are only three access point roads open,” said Roasting.

“These measures are in place to control and monitor individuals and families dealing with COVID-19 and to cut down the number of infected community members.”

Also, Louis Bull has the only active isolation trailers.

“Montana First Nation strategy is to monitor and prevent the spread of the virus,” said Reggie Rabbit, Montana First Nation councillor.

“Like the other nations, we have our DEM and ECO that keep in touch with the other three First Nations communities of Maskwacis.”

Montana First Nation closed off one of three access points to the community.

“The health and safety of Montana is taken very seriously. We needed to ensure the public and nation members were aware so we built security gates and security booths at both approved access points,” said Rabbit.

Rabbit further explains that Montana also created a new security team through Akamihk Kanatasky Ventures (AKV) Ltd. to complement and assist COVID-19 security at the gates.

AKV is a band-owned business and the new security officers are managed through it and their role is to patrol the nation.

“The heroes are Maskwacis COVID security,” said Rabbit.

“They keep the Nation members safe during these trying times.”

And in these trying times, mental health is a concern as well.

“Coming from a criminal justice background, I know this pandemic has exacerbated existing social conditions,” said Rabbit.

“Overall, we have seen a decrease in criminal activity but an increase in mental health issues.”

Recently, Montana held a dance challenge to improve ‘mental hygiene.’

Montana chief and council donated prize money for COVID-19 security employee participation.

“This is important because as frontline workers they deal with very stressful interactions.”

“Our role right now is to enforce Ermineskin Curfew Law. It starts at 10 p.m. and ends at 6 a.m.,” said Kayrol Winehandle, manager of Ermineskin’s security department.

“What we do is monitor traffic and ask questions … like, are they non-residents or residents? And we track where they go in the community.”

Winehandle explains that Ermineskin’s DEM and ECO coordinate with Maskwacis Health Services (MHS) to track and monitor COVID-19 cases in the community.

“We get our directives from our DEM and ECO,” said Winehandle.

“Our team meets every two weeks by conference call to share concerns and come up with strategies. For example, we talk about how to deliver food hampers to households with Covid 19.

“I am really proud of our young people. It’s been 11 months since this pandemic began … They really stepped up during this pandemic. They are determined and committed workers,” said Winehandle.

Vernon Saddleback, Chief of Samson Cree Nation says for the first part of the pandemic, his role a chief was to “provide support to my team, guidance, allocate financial support and set up our emergency management.

“What we did in Samson was create a zero-tolerance for partying in the town sites. We found that many of the super spreader events took place at these parties. We sent out letters informing residents of the zero tolerance for partying.”

He explains that tough measures needed to be taken to ensure the safety of the residence.

“I needed to ensure that this health crisis didn’t become a political crisis,” said Saddleback.

“Before the pandemic, we had zero suicides in the last two years. What we have seen is an increase in mental health issues and an increase in suicides. We haven’t been able to send out supports.

“As the leader of my Nation, I’m here to support. That we get through this together,” said Saddleback.


Just Posted

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Most Read