COVID-19 Information for the Public

The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government is working with the Cree Health Board to keep you updated on COVID-19 information for Eeyou Istchee.

What is the current situation in Eeyou Istchee?

Updated October 5, 2020

Total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Eeyou Istchee since March 15, 2020: 14
2 active |  12 recovered

If you are worried about COVID-19, call your CMC or the Cree Board of Health COVID-19 Info Line’s toll-free number:
1-866-855-2811

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Latest Livestream Q&A on COVID-19

We are working with the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, the Cree School Board and local governments to answer your questions. You can submit questions ahead of time on our Facebook page or in the Livestream comments.

Law Respecting Measures to Contain the Spread of COVID-19 through Mandatory Self-Isolation

Current Situation

The Population of Eeyou Istchee is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 for the following reasons:

  • High prevalence of underlying health issues: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma and other pulmonary issues;
  • The Cree Health Board has a mandate covering a large geographic area with limited resources during a time when it is especially difficult to recruit new or additional human resources;

Eeyou Istchee remains COVID-19 free with sporadic cases being identified while southern Quebec represents the epicentre for the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.

  • All Cree cases of COVID-19 have been traced to Montreal or international travel.

Despite the maintenance of consistently high numbers of COVID-19 cases in Southern Quebec, the Government is moving forward with the deconfinement of regions and the re-starting of industries.

COVID-19 Threat to Eeyou Istchee

Quebec had imposed regional travel restrictions that have assisted greatly in reducing the risk of COVID-19 entering Eeyou Istchee, the regional travel restrictions will be lifted in the coming weeks, despite any differences that
may exist in infection rates within the different regions;

The two single largest threats to the capacity of healthcare in communities in regard to COVID-19 remain:

  1. Community members traveling south and then returning to a Cree community;
  2. Guests from outside the region coming into a Cree community;

Beyond the physical distancing and other preventative measures, the Cree Nation must maintain control and monitor closely those that come into Eeyou Istchee from Southern regions.

Law Respecting Measures to Contain the Spread of COVID-19 through Mandatory Self-Isolation

Important Features

  • Applicable only if you are entering a Cree First Nation community through the local checkpoints operated by community Public Safety Officers*.
  • Information concerning an individual’s health will NOT be collected nor registered.
  • Personal contact information of individuals will NOT be registered.
  • Your name will only be registered if you are returning from an identified Area of Risk** including the expiry date of your isolation period.
  • The CBHSSJB Self-Isolation Guideline is important to consult when preparing for your 14-day isolation.
  • Exemptions may be considered if:
    -The individual is examined by a physician who can determine that they do not represent a risk to the community;
    -The individual has gone through a screening process, isolation protocol or other measures that may allow them to be exempt with conditions that they must respect while in the community.

As the pandemic continues, we must maintain the precautionary measures put in place to protect our Elders, our community members providing essential services and our health network that has been working hard to keep us safe.  These measures have been highly effective in keeping our communities safe.  We thank you all for your cooperation during this challenging time.

*The 2017 Governance Agreement provides Cree First Nations with the authority to adopt and implement their own laws in Category 1A lands.  These laws supersede laws of the provincial or federal governments.

**Area of Risk is identified with expertise from the Public Health Department with consideration to the epidemiological data available for these regions and areas. 

Deconfinement Plan

Why it’s time to consider deconfinement?

From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12, Eeyou Istchee adopted many measures to protect the health and well-being of our communities.

This resulted in our region having the lowest rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Quebec to date, because of cooperation between Cree entities, local leaders, and people in our communities.

Yet, these restrictions have come at a cost. They have affected the mental and social well-being of our people, and our local economy.

For these reasons, Eeyou Istchee, like many nations around the world, now sees the need for a gradual return to some kind of “normal” to reduce the negative effects of confinement on our population.

What does “deconfinement” mean?

  1. Deconfinement means gradually loosening some restrictions put in place to reduce COVID-19 transmission, and allowing a return to some activities. As such, deconfinement marks an important shift in our mindset about COVID-19.
  2. Deconfinement does not mean the pandemic is over. It means the situation is stable enough for us to start thinking about how we can reduce the long-term effects of confinement on our communities, culture and traditions, while continuing to protect our population against the virus.
  3. Deconfinement is a balancing act with its own risks. Loosening current public health measures could lead to an increase in cases in our region.
  4. Deconfinement is NOT a sudden removal of all restrictions. It is a gradual process of easing some (not all) of the precautionary public health measures in a planned and organized fashion, over several weeks and months. What measures to lift first, and in what order will be decided in consultation with the Cree Nation Government, based on our region’s specific needs.

How will deconfinement happen in Eeyou Istchee?

While many regions of Quebec have started the deconfinement process, our region will wait at least 14 days after the end of Goose Break.

This extra time will allow the CBHSSJB Regional Public Health Department to monitor a potential increase in the rate of infection, as families return from their camps.

If all goes well, Eeyou Istchee can start the deconfinement process in the second week of June. We will take a very cautious approach.

Our population has particular vulnerabilities, and our health care system has limited capacity to cope with a large number of cases. For these reasons, we must be extra careful. Eeyou Istchee’s deconfinement will take place in 5 phases, with a gradual loosening of measures at each stage.

What are the areas of risk?

Updates in this section to include the most recent areas of high risk: October 7, 2020 

Areas of risk will be reviewed as the situation in Eeyou Istchee and surrounding areas evolves. A person traveling from an area of risk will have to self-isolate for a period of 14 days in accordance with the Self Isolation Law. 


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Archive: COVID-19 Overview

We have updated our page to add more updated content. We have created a PDF to provide an overview of:

  1. What is COVID-19?
  2. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
  3. Which people are considered high risk?
  4. Should I avoid travel?

You can find all of this information as well on the Cree Board of Health’s website dedicated to COVID-19 at:

www.eeyoucovid19.org

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