Chief and Council, as well as staff of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, are taking multiple steps to ensure the community remains safe during this time. We have established a Pandemic Committee, led by Chief and Council, to ensure we have the necessary plans and resources available for our community members. At this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our community.
The Government of Saskatchewan on March 18th declared a provincial State of Emergency, giving the government broad powers to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes measures like the ability to limit travel to or from a community or region of the province and directing that property or equipment be deployed to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our Pandemic Committee is meeting regularly amidst the quickly changing circumstances around COVID-19. Led by Chief and Council, the Committee will report updates and information to the community regularly through social media, website and hand-delivered notices.
It is important to remember that everyone in Whitecap has a responsibility to each other to practice safe behaviours to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Everyone must continue to self-monitor to ensure they don’t have symptoms. Parents must be mindful of their children to ensure they are maintaining “social distancing” including no sleep overs, to prevent the virus spreading from house to house. As well, be mindful of your contacts with Elders if you are feeling sick yourself.
Health Centre COVID-19 Testing Site
WDFN Health Centre will be conducting COVID-19 testing for Whitecap Dakota First Nation Community Members. The process remains the same: If you believe you have symptoms of COVID-19 or if you may have been in contact with someone who has the virus, call the Health Centre at 306-373-4600 during normal business hours (Monday-Friday 8-4:30 pm) to be screened. During the screening process, the Nurse Practitioner will determine if you require a test.
If you require a test, you will be given an appointment time at the Whitecap testing location.
WDFN Off-Reserve Member Programs
Please fill-out and submit the WDFN Off-Reserve Member Program Sheet to update your information with our office. Please complete with your address, email, and dependent information.
WDFN has assembled cleaning kits amid the COVID-19 pandemic to make available to its members both on and off-reserve. To assist in distribution of these kits we are asking you to register with us to confirm your contact information, address and the number of people in your household.
This “census” information will also help us for future planning and programming to support our off-reserve members.
Please fill out the attached form on-line and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact the WDFN offices at 306-477-0908 during business hours (Monday-Friday 8am-4:30pm) to get the form filled out over the phone. Members who live in the Saskatoon area and have registered will receive cleaning kits next week. Alternative arrangements will be made for those who do not live in the Saskatoon area.
WDFN Pandemic Prevention Law Now In Effect
- Council passed the WDFN Pandemic Law on April 21 as an Emergency Land Code Law
- Complements Saskatchewan Public Health Order with additional tools to protect public health and safety on Whitecap lands
- Key measures to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19:
- Restrictions on visiting WDFN, including giving Council the power to put up signs and checkpoints
- Restrictions on public gatherings, including gatherings and parties in private homes
- Rules for Businesses operating on WDFN Lands
- Meeting Public Health Order requirements (e.g Physical Distancing)
- Appointment of security staff to enforce law, including issuing orders and imposing fines
- RCMP recognizes law and will assist WDFN and its security in enforcement of the law
Measures taken to reduce COVID-19 risk in our community:
- Closure of all Whitecap Dakota Government Offices to the public, including the Health Centre, to ensure the risk of transmission is reduced for our employees and community members.
- Closure of the CRHES and Whitecap Early Learning Centre – effective March 16 indefinitely.
- Health assessments for elders 60 years + to ensure programs are put in place and assistance is available if required.
- ACCFS office will be closed – effective March 16. Emergency duty workers are available to assist if required.
- Whitecap Trail Store will remain open to serve the community but with operational restrictions to ensure the safety of staff and customers. Restrictions include the suspension of self-service options, and limited customers allowed in store at a time.
- Chief and Council are working closely with other government agencies, including the Saskatchewan Health Authority
- All community gatherings have been cancelled to assist with social distancing
- The Dakota Dunes Casino is closed – effective March 17 and until further notice
- Regular Pandemic Committee Meetings are taking place twice a week.
WDFN Staff to Work Remotely
As a commitment to keep our community and employees safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief and Council have authorized Whitecap Dakota First Nation staff to work remotely, effective today and until further notice, to reduce the risk of transmission in Whitecap.
Essential services will not be impacted. Staff are working with their supervisors to ensure work is being carried out remotely. The Pandemic Planning Committee is meeting regularly through an online platform. Some staff are continuing to work in our offices as necessary to carry out business, and offices will continue to remain closed to the public.
All staff remain available to assist you during our reduced business hours: Monday-Friday, 8am – 4:30pm via phone or email. Telephone calls for all Whitecap facilities are re-routed off site to a Receptionist.
Thank you for the anticipated cooperation as we continue to implement measures to flatten the curve and keep our community and staff safe.
Whitecap Dakota Facility Closures to the Public – Effective Immediately
The health and well-being of our community and staff remain a top priority. As such, after careful consideration amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief and Council have decided to close all Whitecap Dakota First Nation facilities to the public, until further notice.
This closure includes the Health Centre, Fitness Centre, Business Centre, WDFN Government Office, Public Works and Elder’s Centre. Staff at the Government Office, Public Works Office, and the Health Centre are happy to assist you via the phone or email. Whitecap Trail Store will remain open to serve the needs of the public.
Essential services will still be provided. If required, in home health assessments will be provided, appointments with the Nurse Practitioners will occur over the phone and prescribing medications over the phone will be available in some cases. Please continue to call the Health Centre with your questions and health concerns.
Please note: Water and sewer services will remain with operators in place to ensure the quality remains that of the highest standard.
Band Office, Business Centre, Fitness Centre and Elders Centre: 306-477-0908
Health Centre: 306-373-4600
Fire Hall: 306-290-2760
Housing and Public Works: 306-477-2013
Mental Health Resources
Living through the COVID-19 pandemic can cause anxiety and worry in all of us. Whether you’re coping with the loneliness of self-isolation, concerned about the health of your loved ones or worried about what the future may hold, there are mental health supports available to help you through this difficult time.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
- Children and teens
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
- People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Resources are available. Please contact any of the below for assistance:
- HealthLine 811 mental health and addictions service continues to be available, providing 24/7 crisis support, advice to help manage a caller’s situation, information and connection to community resources.
- Kids Help Phone offers professional counselling, information and referrals. You can phone, text or chat online. It’s confidential, free and available 24/7.
- Call 1-800-668-6868
- Text CONNECT to 686868
- Chat online at kidshelpphone.ca
- Whitecap Dakota First Nation Health Centre Support – Call us at 306-373-4600 to speak with the Mental Health Therapist
We’re all in this together. Please reach out if you require support.
Indigenous Services Canada
Indigenous Services Canada’s Community Guide on Accessing Additional Supports provides an overview of additional supports for communities related to the COVID 19 pandemic.
NIHB Mental Health Counselling continues to be available and is being delivered via telehealth platforms. Check out thiswebsite for more information.
Mental Wellness Teams continue to support communities in a variety of ways, including on-line and over the phone. In some regions, face-to-face meetings are still possible, but limited to emergencies only.
- First Peoples Wellness Circle (FPWC) are supporting MWTs by providing guidance material on how to support individuals, families, elders, and communities.
- FPWC will also be launching a secure on-line platform to help MWTs better reach communities in a safe and effective manner. For more information on this work, please see FPWC’s website.
IRS Resolution Health Support Program (IRS RHSP) and support for those affected by the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) continue to be available. IRS RHSP and MMIWG workers are following public health guidelines and mainly providing services virtually and by phone. Professional counselling for eligible IRS and MMIWG clients is also available at this time and can be provided virtually or by phone.
- A help line provides services for former students of the Indian Residential Schools and their families. These services are accessible 24/7 toll-free at 1-866-925-4419.
- The support line for MMIWG provide immediate assistance, national and independent, toll-free 24/7 at 1-844-413-6649. The service is offered in English, French, Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut.
Most federally-funded Treatment Centres have closed, but in some cases, counselling staff are reaching out to clients over the phone and on-line. Some centres are also exploring on-line options for aftercare and some have been providing care hampers to past clients, elders, and low income community members. Check with treatment centres to find out more. Treatment centres are also being supported by Thunderbird Partnership Foundation.
OAT Sites are working with the medical professionals affiliated with their programs to make sure clients have continued access.
Jordan’s Principle – Services continue during the COVID 19 pandemic. Please see the website for more details.
Inuit Child First Initiative – Services continue during the COVID 19 pandemic. Please see the website for more details.
First Nations Specific Resources
First Peoples Wellness Circleexists to improve the lives of Canada’s First Peoples by addressing healing, wellness and other mental health challenges. They have developed a series of resources for a variety of audiences related to COVID 19.
Thunderbird Partnership Foundation‘s top priority is developing a continuum of care that would be available to all First Nations people in Canada, using the Honouring Our Strengths document as a framework. They have developed a variety of resources related to COVID 19, including several specific to substance use.
First Nations Health Managers Association works on certification and professional development opportunities. They have pivoted to use their voice as another medium for COVID 19 messaging. They have been and will continue holding town halls related to COVID 19 that have featured topics such as mental wellness and youth.
Elders and Seniors in the Community
We strongly recommend that all senior community members and Elders take precaution and remain isolated in their homes in the coming weeks. Self-isolation is recommended while our community and Saskatchewan deal with the current pandemic. Please reach out to your family to assist with required needs, including grocery shopping.
There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians 65 and over, and those with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions.
- No one should attend visit an assisted living, long-term care or health-care facility if ill, with the exception of seeking medical attention.
- Everyone should model social distancing (i.e. no handshakes, hugs, kisses).
- Everyone should follow proper hand/cough hygiene.
- Persons at higher risk, for example those over 65 or anyone with underlying medical conditions, should reconsider attending mass gatherings and international travel at this time.
If an Elder requires assistance, please contact the Nurse Practitioner Christine Gates 306-373- 4600P
Precautions to Take at Home
As a respiratory illness, the best method to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to practice everyday preventive actions, including:
- Practice physical distancing and only go out if it is necessary. Physical distancing is a term applied to certain actions that stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease by restricting distance and contact between individuals. The general rule is 2 metres. Visit saskatchewan.ca for more information.
- Practice proper cough and sneezing etiquette (into the bend of your elbow) – throw used tissues in the garbage and immediately wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry them thoroughly; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
- Maintain safe food practices and avoid sharing cups, glasses, dishes or cutlery, and ensure they are thoroughly washed with warm water and soap after each use;
- Regularly clean workstations and objects with disinfectants that are frequently touched, such as doorknobs, handles, vehicles, phones and keyboards.
Accessing Financial Support
On March 18, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy during this challenging period. These measures will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses.
If you have questions related to COVID-19, please visit the Government of Saskatchewan website or contact HealthLine at 811.
Information on Government Programs: Government of Canada website
This webpage will be updated regularly as new information is available to share.