COVID-19 related deaths in Lake Babine Nation are in the double digits. (Eddie Huband photo/Lakes District News)

COVID-19 related deaths in Lake Babine Nation are in the double digits. (Eddie Huband photo/Lakes District News)

Lake Babine Nation COVID-19 crisis

Band has suffered numerous casualties due to outbreak

Lake Babine Nation (LBN) has been one of the most hard-hit communities by COVID-19 in the region. To date, LBN has lost 14 members to COVID-19 on and off reserve according to Chief Murphy Abraham.

“This outbreak has affected Lake Babine in many ways regarding our cultural practices,” Abraham told Lakes District News.

“For example; the nation usually supports families in-person when it comes to funerals or loved ones battling sickness in the hospital, as well as our Bah’lats’ and community dinners. It’s difficult for a tight knit community like this to not be able to support each other in those ways during this time,” he continued.

According to Murphy, the province is helping LBN through the crisis by supplying funds for food shortages, safety supplies and checkpoint wages. Internally, LBN has implemented a vaccination policy for all its members.

Still, the effects of COVID-19 are wearing on the community. On Dec. 10, a graduation ceremony was held for LBN students who completed the first year of the Nadut’en language proficiency program.

The event, which was supposed to be a celebration, had to be moved last minute off of the reserve to a backup location due to the nation’s latest COVID-19 related death.

READ MORE: Graduation ceremony for LBN students

On top of this, Abraham told Lakes District News that the outbreak has also slowed the nation’s work with the province under the Foundation Agreement, which outlines a shared 20-year vision that establishes a step-by-step pathway to self-government, shared decision-making, and the implementation of LBN Aboriginal title and rights.

Despite the losses of life, Abraham says that LBN will get through this difficult time.

“With the many challenges we faced this term, LBN is a strong and resilient nation that has gone through many obstacles since first contact. We will always find a way to keep moving forward to improve the livelihood of all LBN citizens no matter where they reside,” he said.