The Education Summit being held by the Dene Nation next Tuesday on the K’atl’odeeche First Nation Reserve in Hay River has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Summit was planned for March 17 to 18 by Dene leadership to encourage and work to develop a shared vision for indigenous education in the Northwest Territories. Now, there will be no developments until the Summit is rescheduled.
Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya told CKLB Radio in an exclusive interview today that the decision to cancel the event was made to “protect the lives of my people.”
“We are working closely with Dr. Kami Kandola the Chief Public Health Officer for the NWT to help protect the people of the Dene Nation,” Chief Yakeleya said. “We have made a decision to postpone the Education Summit as a precautionary measure to the concern of the spread of coronavirus.”
Chief Yakeleya says although there are no confirmed cases in the NWT it’s important that the Dene Nation remain vigilant. Dr. Kandola visited the Dene Nation office on Monday and provided staff with a presentation on the virus.
“The Dene Nation is on lockdown,” Chief Yakeleya said. “We are suspending all travel for our employess outside the NWT effective immediatly.”
Chief Yakeleya says it is with his deepest regret to announce the postponement of the Education Summit and the lockdown but because of limited nursing services in the smaller communities and the treat of the virus, he had no choice.
“It’s a very dangerous sitution for the Dene Nation people becuase of our lack of resources,” Chief Yakeleya said. “We need to protect our elders who are most vunarable.”
Chief Yakeleya says that the elders of the smaller communities are the most vulnerable because of pre-existing health conditions.
“We are wll aware and greatly concerned about the lack of health resources in our small communites,” Chief Yakeleya said. “Our main concern is to keep our residents safe.”
It is unclear when the Education Summit will be rescheduled, CKLB Radio will release the information when it becomes available.