Indigenous Canadians head to the wilderness to wait out virus crisis

Canada’s government announced a funding plan on Monday to help some of its northern Indigenous communities move out to the Arctic wilderness to wait out the coronavirus pandemic. Ottawa said it would provide authorities in the Northwest Territories with 2.6 million Canadian dollars (1.8 million dollars) to help “families who would not otherwise be able to be on the land because of the financial burden of acquiring necessary provisions.”  Conventional physical distancing measures, such as staying at home, don’t work in some Indigenous communities, where a shortage of housing has led to a big overcrowding problem and large intergenerational families living under one roof, according to Kami Kandola, the chief public health officer for the region. Read also: First heatwave recorded in Antarctica, scientists say Many families in the Northwest Territories have already begun to move to hunting and fishing camps where they can keep safer physical distances, Kandola said in a statement. Norman Yakeleya, the national chief of the Indigenous Dene group, said the remote communities are at higher risk. “Elders and knowledge keepers have always told us: ‘a day will come, when we will need to go to the land’ and now is that time,” Yakeleya said in a statement. “Being on the land is our way of life.” With all schools closed, the initiative is also an opportunity for families to pass on cultural traditions to their children that have sustained the Dene people for thousands of years, he added. (dpa)