Nuxalk hereditary chiefs Q’umulha (Rhonda Schooner) and Nanus (Mike Tallio) at a checkpoint on Highway 20 in the Bella Coola Valley, activated March 25. (Nuxalk Nation/Williams Lake Tribune)

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Bella Coola’s COVID-19 checkpoint on Highway 20 has been in place for almost three months, imposed by the Nuxalk Nation. Haida Gwaii and Bella Bella on the B.C. coast have extended their travel restriction checkpoints to May 31. Tahltan, Nisga’a and Nakazdli Whut’en in the north have essential-only entry.

Tofino and Ucluelet saw checkpoints in March from the Tla-o-qui-at First Nation to back up the message of other communities reluctant to resume welcoming visitors. Those communities along with Port Renfrew, the popular fishing village on Vancouver Island, are preparing to welcome tourists back as province-wide pandemic restrictions ease.

RELATED: Port Renfrew eyes reopening tourism hotspot

RELATED: Tla-o-qui-aht stop traffic to Tofino, Ucluelet

As Premier John Horgan promotes tourism within B.C. for the summer of the pandemic, the blunt message to some tourists to turn around is acceptable, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says. She urged people to support B.C.’s tourism-reliant businesses and communities, but only if invited.

“The only caveat I have is that we have many communities, small communities, particularly our First Nations communities, who have understandably a greater degree of risk and loss that could happen if this virus was introduced in those communities,” Henry said at her daily briefing May 23. “So I would leave it to them to determine whether it is safe for people to travel to their communities and it is their – it’s up to them to determine when they’re ready for that, if at all, this summer. And it may be that some areas will not be appropriate for us to visit unless we’re invited in.”

In a year marked by other kinds of roadblocks directed at the Coastal Gaslink pipeline and resource projects in general, Henry’s avoidance of describing a “right” to Indigenous territorial claims is prudent. Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth are responsible for COVID-19 public health restrictions, including directing police and other officials to enforce them.

At the same time, federal and provincial governments have been reluctant to challenge any Indigenous assertion, including the Ontario Provincial Police declining to enforce a court order clearing the CN Rail system of Mohawk blockades in support of a handful of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposing Coastal Gaslink.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Interior Health will not expand Police and Crisis Team

Southeast Division Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli asked IH to expand the program

Rain prompts travel advisories, road closures in Cache Creek area

No stopping during heavy rain on highways near Cache Creek

Free screenings of ‘Twilight Zone’ episode filmed in Ashcroft

‘A Small Town’ was filmed in February, and is now available as part of TV show’s second season

Ashcroft council moves forward on rezoning project

Amendment to zoning bylaw paves the way for new housing development in North Ashcroft

New emergency alert system for TNRD

System will allow residents to receive emergency warnings, alerts, and updates on various devices

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Most Read