Kahnawake and Kanesatake close down all businesses amid COVID-19 pandemic

kahnawake

The Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) communities of Kahnawake and Kanesatake near Montreal have shut down almost all business on their respective territories to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake announced Sunday that, along with the health centre and emergency preparedness team, the council is requiring all stores to close on the territory.

The news release reads that the council met with businesses Friday, most of whom were receptive to the idea of closing.

The Kahnawake COVID-19 task force ordered all businesses not considered essential services to close. The news release Saturday directed all tobacco factories and cigarette stores to close, and all community gatherings at longhouses, churches or reception halls cancelled.

The community's pharmacies remain open, but members of the task force are asking community members to stay put and not travel off the territory.

“All non-essential travel outside of the community is strongly discouraged,” the release reads.

Playground Poker House, Poker Palace and all restaurants and bars closed their doors last week in Kahnawake except for take-out services.

A doctor who works in Kahnawake tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday, but there have been no community members who have test positive to date and none in Kanesatake. The doctor is in isolation.

Kanesatake Council Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon, however, said the lack of cases does not mean the community is immune.

“The fact is that we can’t prevent the virus from coming in the midst of our community,” wrote Simon in a news release. “But if we all work together and come together as one, exactly as our ancestors did, we can limit its spread and limit to a minimum the lasting impacts that these challenging times could have on all our lives. We can beat this thing, but only if we come together.”