Dene National Chief advises his people to go out on the land in order to protect against coronavirus

Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya. (CKLB file photo.)

The National Chief of the Dene Nation is advising his people to go out on the land to avoid exposure to coronavirus.

Norman Yakeleya made the comment during a live phone interview on CKLB Radio Tuesday morning.

“That’s what the elders are telling us. Go out on the land. This is a perfect time for people to show youngsters how to build a fire in the morning, how to put up a tent,” Yakeleya said. “It’s almost spring. If people can get their families out on the land, that’s a perfect way to self-isolate, a way to avoid COVID-19.”

Yakeleya said he is encouraged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge of $100 million to help Indigenous people across Canada deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

Trudeau promised the funding in a meeting Monday with Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde.

Yakeleya says it’s not yet clear how funding will be doled out but he agrees for people heading out on the land that saving receipts from money spent on items like gas and food is a good idea.

He added he is to have a meeting Wednesday with federal cabinet ministers about COVID-19.

Yakeleya may have a better sense then of how the funding will be allocated.

He says he will be pushing for the government to hire full-time nurses for the ten remote communities in the NWT that currently don’t have them.

Yakeleya says it’s important for the Feds to deliver on that request at least until the coronavirus virus threat subsides, if it does.

About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.