Bernard Avishai muses on April 21, 2020 at newyorker.com, “How does one close a town border?”
He was interviewing Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Black Swan) who said that during a pandemic, “The government should encourage an eclectic array of management norms: drawing up political borders, even down to the level of towns, which can, in an epidemiological emergency, be closed.”
Well, in my sparsely populated corner of northwest BC, you put a sign up on the one road leading to/from the Nass Valley villages: “Nisga’a Locals only” on March 19.
On the coast, “On March 27, the Heiltsuk issued a bylaw banning non-residents and non-Heiltsuk from entering their territory, including Bella Bella, to avoid bringing infection into the community. Essential workers including health-care staff are exempt.
“On Saturday, the First Nation turned away two sailboats en route to Alaska, and have stopped other vessels from docking, said Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett. ‘I know that people are scared and trying to find a place of refuge, and maybe get away from the urban centres, but our community of Bella Bella is highly vulnerable to a COVID-19 outbreak,’ she said.”
On the island, you check every vehicle coming off the ferry to Haida Gwaii, and if they’re not from Skidegate, you tell them to keep moving, don’t stop for groceries or for any other reason. “We want the outside world to know that now is just not a good time to be coming to Haida Gwaii,” Chief councillor Billy Yovanovich told the Black Press Media on April 3. “This is for their safety as well as ours.”
As of April 7, the “Witset First Nation has set up checkpoints outside of the community to monitor who goes in and out. Only members are allowed to enter the community, and they can only leave to go to work or pick up essential supplies.”
April 23, the “Tahltan Central Government (TCG) is asking visitors to stay away from Tahltan territory during COVID-19. […] In a press release issued this morning, the TCG noted its territory’s remote location in the northwestern-most corner of the province, limited healthcare facilities, lack of adequate RCMP resources and large number of elders, makes the people there among the most vulnerable during the ongoing pandemic. The closest hospital from Tahltan Territory is approximately 600 kms away.”
Being at the end of a very long road or on an island with limited resources is one reason to “close a town border” but memory is another.
Heiltsuk elder Pauline Waterfall, 76, “said her mother heard stories from her grandmother about the Spanish flu, and how so many people died each day that proper burials couldn’t be done. She described this time as utter chaos, confusion, panic and fear”.
And here: https://www.terracestandard.com/news/petition-calls-government-to-restrict-non-essential-travel-to-b-c-s-north-central-coasts/ and https://www.terracestandard.com/news/kitselas-villages-closed-to-visitors/
With tourist attractions such as recreational fishing, hot springs, museums and festivals limited, closed or cancelled, the local newspaper is suffering. Instead of paying for ads promoting events to experience and places to go and things to see, my neighbours are putting out press releases asking people to please stay away.
Avishi, B. (April 21, 2020.) “The Pandemic Isn’t a Black Swan but a Portent of a More Fragile Global System.” From https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-pandemic-isnt-a-black-swan-but-a-portent-of-a-more-fragile-global-system
Balcerzak, N. (March 19, 2020.) “NLG activates Nisga’a Emergency Program Act in response to COVID-19, discourages visitation from non-locals.” Nass Valley closes to visitors, hot springs shut down.
Barker, T. (April 23, 2020.) “Tahltan ask visitors to stay away from their territory during COVID-19.”Both Red Chris and Brucejack mines continue to operate under strict pandemic measures. From https://www.terracestandard.com/news/tahltan-ask-visitors-to-stay-away-from-their-territory-during-covid-19-2/
Boutiliera, M. (April 21, 2020.) “Help The Terrace Standard continue its mission to provide trusted local news.” Trusted, local Terrace news? It’s now up to you. From https://www.terracestandard.com/news/help-the-terrace-standard-continue-its-mission-to-provide-trusted-local-news/.
CBC News British Columbia. (April 7, 2020.) “Indigenous communities impose curfews, set up checkpoints to keep out COVID-19.”Leaders concerned outsiders will bring virus into communities. From https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/indigenous-curfews-checkpoints-1.5525078
Gall, K. (April 3, 2020.) “ ‘Drive right through’: Haida Gwaii First Nation erects checkpoint for non-residents.”Skidegate Band Council Emergency Operations Centre erected checkpoint on April 2. From https://www.terracestandard.com/news/drive-right-through-haida-gwaii-first-nation-erects-checkpoint-for-non-residents/
Hewitt, T. (April 3, 2020) “Skeena Bulkley Valley MP calling for halt on sport fishing licenses to out-of-province fishers.” Bachrach and Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns co-signed the letter to the Minister of Fisheries.
Johnson, L. (April 6, 2020.) “This is not the time’: Heiltsuk Nation tells yachters they can’t visit during COVID-19 pandemic.