The Tahltan Nation is asking non-resident outdoor enthusiasts to keep away from their traditional territory, despite the provincial government’s easing of recreational restrictions as part of its “BC Restart Plan”.
“The situation we continue to be faced with is fluid and changing everyday. We will continue to review and adapt as new information comes available,” TCG president Chad Norman Day stated in an email to Black Press. “For now we are staying the course.”
The BC Restart Plan includes the opening of hundreds of provincial parks and protected areas prior to the Victoria Day long weekend, with camping opportunities to follow in June. The announcement is rekindling a restless province’s love for the outdoors.
However in Tahltan Territory the TCG’s Wildlife Department and Wildlife Guardians will be patrolling the land and controlling access points to popular hunting areas. Day said hunters and campers will be informed of the Nation’s inherent Title and Rights, and policies toward the COVID-19 pandemic, and respectfully asked to leave.
“Keeping our Elders, those with compromised immune systems and all our Nation members safe remains our top priority,” Day stated in a joint press release with Iskut Band Council Chief Marie Quock, Tahltan Band Council Chief Rick McLean. “That is why Tahltan Leadership will keep in place the strict preventive measures that have kept COVID-19 outside of our Territory and our people safe.
“While this may disappoint some, we understand that the right decision is not always the popular decision.”
During the pandemic the Tahltan leadership has regularly stated it is especially vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 infections due their remote location, limited healthcare facilities and large numbers of Elders.
“The closest hospital from Tahltan Territory is approximately 600kms away,” the leadership stated. “We have a limited amount of aircraft, airport infrastructure, and pilots available for any emergency medical evacuations. Our clinics have very limited staff, that we desperately need for our local communities and Tahltan people. In fact, there is no longer a functional pharmacy in Tahltan Territory during this time.”
Tahltan and non-Indigenous residents living within the boundaries of the traditional territory are encouraged to go out onto the land with household members, but maintain social distancing and avoid travelling between communities.