BIIGTIGONG NISHNAABEG, Ont. — A roadblock has been set up at the entrance to Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, also known as the Pic 50 Ojibway band, 20 kilometres southeast of Marathon.
A 24-hour checkpoint at Highway 627 and Pic River Road was established Tuesday night after the Chief and council declared a state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a memo to the community, the leadership said only people residing within the boundaries of the reserve land, essential service providers, goods and services delivery personnel, and emergency responders will be granted access until further notice.
No visitors are allowed, including band members living off-reserve. Biigtigong Nishnaabeg has about 1,200 members, but only 500 are on-reserve.
Members of the band council and staff are stationed at the access point to conduct mandatory screening procedures.
Residents needing to get essential supplies in Marathon will be allowed to do so, but the leadership says only one member of each household should make the trip.
People are also permitted to leave for urgent medical appointments or for employment purposes.
"These are unprecedented times for our community, our country and the world. We must each do our part in ensuring we protect everyone we love, especially our vulnerable population," the memo states.
A neighbouring First Nation community, Netimizaagamig Nishnaabeg (formerly Pic Mobert First Nation,) implemented a total lockdown Tuesday night, preventing residents from leaving at any time except for urgent medical reasons.
Biigtigong Nishnaabeg's Chief and council have made provisions for imposing a similar lockdown at some point if necessary.