Colville Lake leadership staying calm as community navigates outbreak

Sahtú Grand Chief Wilbert Kochon. (Luke Carroll/CKLB)

Colville Lake’s chief says the best thing he can do for the community is prevent panicking.

Behdzi Ahda First Nation (Colville Lake) has 74 active cases of COVID-19.

As the community continues to navigate the outbreak, Chief Wilbert Kochon says he had some good news on Monday.

“We just went hunting and shot a couple moose, a lot of meat and a lot of fish,” Kochon said.

The food will be distributed to community members, including those isolating.

“We’ll get through this together and the best thing for us is for leadership to stay calm,” Kochon said.

There have been reports of military being deployed to support health workers to try and contain the ongoing outbreak. But Kochon says the military will not be arriving in Behdzi Ahda First Nation (Colville Lake), adding they don’t need more people in the community.

Stuck inside

David Codzi is the president of the Ayoni Keh Land Corporation and assistant band manager of the Behdzi Ahda First Nation.

When he heard the news of the outbreak he said he was shocked, but at the same time felt as though it was only a matter of time before it reached Colville Lake.

“It felt like it was all over, that we can’t really be that safe,” he said.

He says the community has been supportive of one another as the numbers continue to increase.

“I think we’re doing quite well, considering where we are,” Codzi says.

But that doesn’t mean the situation hasn’t been difficult — his own family has caught the virus including his nearly two-year-old baby.

“It’s hard to have my baby crying that long, because he usually never cries,” he said.

Codzi says many community members aren’t used to being stuck inside for this long.

David Codzi is the president of the Ayoni Keh Land Corporation in Colville Lake. Seen here at SSI’s annual gathering from 2019. (Francis Tessier-Burns/CKLB)

“My people are used to being out and free and doing whatever they need to do — they’re really physical people,” he said. “I think it’s probably hard on them, having to stay at home.”

Codzi says the community has been enforcing the containment order on their own.

“We don’t have police… It’s on us,” he said.

Codzi says Facebook has been useful for certain things, including coordinating walks so residents aren’t accidentally mingling. But he adds social media can quickly become a negative place.

Codzi and Kochon both credit the work of the health care staff who have been in the community.

Along with testing, a vaccination clinic was also held there — Behdzi Ahda First Nation has the lowest vaccination rate in the NWT at 28 per cent fully vaccinated.

“We’re just letting them know that you should get vaccinated, I got vaccinated, I’m not sick,” he said.

Codzi adds it is everyone’s individual choice, but getting vaccinated will help protect the vulnerable.

About the Author

Luke Carroll
Luke Carroll is a journalist originally from Brockville, Ont. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor in Ottawa, Halifax and New Brunswick. Luke is a graduate of Carleton University's bachelor of journalism program. If you have a story idea, feel free to send him an email at