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What Curve Lake First Nation is Doing to Innovate During This Pandemic

Curve Lake First Nation Chief Emily Whetung took the time to update Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development on how their community is adapting and innovating through this global pandemic.

CLFN has decided to implement a coloured flag system that will further safeguard individuals in the community from COVID-19. There are five colours that represent different categories. 

White = Everything is alright; Blue = We need water; Yellow = We need food; Red = We are sick; Green = We need help (Not health related). 

CLFN is strongly advising its residents that the appropriate colour be placed in a visible area, such as the front window or door. Since Thursday, March 26, 2020, CLFN staff has been monitoring the community during regular business hours and after-hours from 4:30pm to 10:00pm and identifying residents that are most vulnerable based on the protocol. This has entailed communicating directly with individuals from households. Residents that haven’t placed a colour anywhere have been deemed to be in a healthy state. 

Below is a Q&A with Chief Whetung:

PKED: Who came up with the community’s flag system concept and how long did it take to implement?

Whetung: “When it became obvious that COVID-19 would potentially afflict the health and livelihoods of members in our community, Administrative Staff, Council and I looked at ways to safeguard all persons living in Curve Lake. I heard another First Nation community was implementing a flag system and some of our membership mentioned it in social media posts and thought it would benefit our community. After some discussion, Council and I finally declared a State of Emergency on March 23 and the Colour Flag Protocol came into effect on March 26. It was important that we implement the protocol as swiftly as possible to mitigate the risks to our community, especially our Elders and those with increased comorbidities.”

PKED: Has it been successful for residents to use?

Whetung: “The protocol has been quite successful with the vast majority of residents adopting the system. Staff have been deployed throughout the day to monitor the status of colours that are displayed on residential windows and doors and report the appropriate needs of each. Councilors have also taken the initiative to monitor residences. In this way, we have been able to provide essentials, such as water, food and toiletries to those in more vulnerable states and to identify those looking for health and wellness supports.”

PKED: Are there any other ways Curve Lake First Nation is adapting during this pandemic?

Whetung: “As cases continued to climb in Ontario and Canada, concerns were raised about how to better protect the well-being of our community from this pandemic. That’s when we decided to implement travel restrictions in our community to be administered at a checkpoint. It was necessary to dissuade people coming to the heart of our community for non-essential purposes, which would increase the number of people in our public spaces making physical distancing less possible for our higher-risk residents. We currently have a vehicle identification system, which came into effect on April 23 and has two categories: those who reside in Curve Lake and those that are employed in Curve Lake. All others are stopped and asked their purpose in entering our community.”

PKED: Are there any other recent success stories from your community?

“First and foremost, the entire community has come together, which reminds me of how lucky I am to live in a place like Curve Lake. Whether it’s individuals taking the time to make face masks for others, volunteers delivering food for the elderly, or harvesters donating meat, members have gone above and behind to ensure that everyone is safe and well taken care of. It truly makes me proud to be a Michi Saagiig from Curve Lake.”

Curve Lake Chief Emily Whetung

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