1,000 signatures reached
To: BC Minister of Health Adrian Dix, BC Premier John Horgan
Stand with First Nations to #KeepSafe from COVID-19
The BC government is withholding important, life-saving information that could prevent serious outbreaks of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities. While First Nations governments are doing a heroic job to contain the virus, because of a lack of government transparency, they are not being given the information they need to keep their communities safe.
Nations have been requesting transparency about the location of presumptive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began: while the anonymity of infected persons would be maintained, Nations would receive notice of nearby outbreaks so they could respond effectively. Nations have joined forces with BC Civil Liberties Association and BC’s Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, who share concerns that lack of transparency by the BC government is endangering the health and safety of First Nations.
Outrageously, First Nations governments are still waiting for the BC Ministry of Health to authorize the disclosure of critical health information so that they can protect their vulnerable populations.
Now, led by Nuu-chah-nulth, Heiltsuk, and Tsilhqot'in, 21 First Nations are calling on the Ministry of Health to share the location of COVID-19 cases, so that they can plan and effectively respond to the pandemic — and protect their communities.
We demand that the BC government to authorize the release of life-saving public health information to Indigenous governments, who are best positioned to respond with culturally appropriate contact-tracing and safety measures to prevent disaster.
If we don’t learn from lessons of the past, the history and devastation of past pandemics will only repeat themselves.
It's time for B.C. to honour First Nation’s right to life-saving health information, so vulnerable communities can #keepsafe.
Why is this important?
Having faced devastating pandemics in the past, First Nations are all-too aware of the threat posed by COVID-19. Families live in multi-generational homes due to housing shortages, hospitals are hundreds - if not thousands - of kilometers away, and communities face a chronic shortage of essential health workers and supplies: in many communities the equipment itself is outdated, or in extremely short supply.
The stakes for First Nations could not be higher. First Nations are among the most vulnerable populations in B.C., with the most to lose. The loss of an Elder represents a loss of language, culture and history. Reduced access to healthcare, food insecurity, and lack of government services are just a few of the problems that could turn a bad outbreak into a devastating crisis.
The virus has exposed the inequities faced by First Nations in providing for the health and well-being of their communities. First Nations need your help to get the Ministry of Health to release the life-saving information they require so they can make informed decisions and respond effectively to the pandemic.
Together we are forcing B.C. government to answer hard questions in the media and to justify why they are keeping First Nations in the dark about COVID-19 cases in and near their communities. Now, we need to ramp up the pressure on the Ministry of Health and Health Authorities, so they honour First Nation’s right to life-saving information.
Sign the petition and support Indigenous government's right to life-saving health information to #keepsafe from COVID-19.
How it will be delivered
We will be collecting signatures to present to BC leaders during a live webinar planned for the 3rd week of September. Sign, share and amplify so we can ramp up the pressure and help First Nations communities #keepsafe.