Mohawk council 'gravely concerned' over rising cases in Kahnawake

Unlike many long-term care facilities in Quebec, Turtle Bay Elders' Lodge in Kahnawake has zero COVID-19 infections, and there are none among the long-term care residents at the hospital as well. SOURCE KSCS

As cases of COVID-19 climb in Kahnawake, a Mohawk community south of Montreal, the council says it’s “gravely concerned.”

As of Jan. 3, Kahnawake logged 12 active cases in the community of approximately 8,000, including an outbreak in one of Kahnawake’s elder care homes.

Two staff members tested positive on Dec. 31 at the Turtle Bay Elders Lodge. All residents and staff have entered isolation while tests are carried out every five days.

Commissioner of Public Safety Lloyd Phillips said the situation at the Lodge is under control.

“The first screening was all negative,” he said. “We’re confident we got it in time.”

A VULNERABLE STATE

While Kahnawake has been largely successful in keeping the virus out of the community in the first wave, cases have mounted through the holidays.

Mohawk Council Chief Gina Deer said she's worried for the weeks to come.

Though cases are still low, being a neighbour to Montreal, one of the most affected cities in Canada, means the risk of infection is never far away.

“We’re not isolated, so we feel like we’re more vulnerable because of the amount of traffic we have through here,” said Deer.

Unlike more remote Indigenous communities, Kahnawake attracts a lot of non-locals, who visit the community to shop.

After declaring a code red on Oct. 1, the community ordered several tobacco shops to close in order to keep non-locals from spreading the virus while shopping.

“Had Kahnawake been an isolated community, we would have been able to better control our situation,” said Deer. 

MORE VACCINES ON THE WAY

A Quebec public health spokesperson told CTV News the province is working with various Indigenous organizations to deliver doses to communities in need. 

While vaccination plans are still in developement, Phillips says its a light at the end of the tunnel. 

“We’re planning a mass vaccine campaign in the community,” he said. “Its going to be at the super bingo hall."

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