FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION - With the number of COVID-19 cases in the Thunder Bay District still climbing, the Fort William First Nation Band Council decided to add checkpoints to limit the number of people entering the community, though businesses on City Road will remain open to everyone.
“We are asking people if you don’t have business here not to come into the community,” said Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins. “We’re not trying to discourage people from coming into our community, but if you don’t have any business here, try not to come into the community right now.”
A checkpoint was set up on Mission Road just off of City Road and it is meant to ensure only those entering that part of the community are there for essential reasons, like work or business, as well as act as a method of contact tracing.
“I think as we continue monitoring what’s going on in and around the region, our issue here is making sure we protect our community,” Collins said. “Hopefully we have no cases here. Maybe this thing will only be up for a couple of weeks. We will see what the trend is in Thunder Bay.”
There are no active cases on Fort William First Nation, but Collins said there have been a few close calls, including someone who tested positive and was in close contact with hockey players who were to play at Fort William First Nation Arena.
The Thunder Bay Minor Hockey Association suspended play for those teams as a precaution.
Last spring, Fort William First Nation closed off the community to non-residents, including asking businesses to shut down for several weeks.
The move was greeted with frustration from some business owners at the time and Collins said he hopes the community won’t have to move to that phase again this time.
“As this point, we are hoping we don’t have to get to that,” he said. “As things transpire in Fort William and we are monitoring them, again I’ll say touch wood, we don’t have any cases in the community. We’ve had some close calls, but they weren’t from members of our community, it was people coming to work here. If we can keep it out of our community, this will probably be it.”
The Band Council has not yet discussed what thresholds will result in more restrictions, but Collins said it probably wouldn’t take much.
“I think if one hits, that’s enough for us,” he said. “That will be enough to close this portion of the community down.”