Statement from Moose Cree First Nation regarding the Wetum Road
December 11, 2020
A decision has been made that the Wetum Road will not be built in Winter 2021 as it would lead to a significantly elevated risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in our community. This was a shared decision between the Council and the Pandemic Emergency Operations Team (PEOT).
The PEOT was formed in February 2020 when our public health professionals determined that a coordinated community response was required to prepare for the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic worsened in March 2020 and it became apparent that it would soon be a threat to our community, the Council passed a motion that delegated authority to the PEOT to make all decisions on safety measures and plans relating to the pandemic. This motion was passed as the Council agreed that public health professionals and those working in health services are the most knowledgeable, experienced and best qualified to make such decisions.
The PEOT had difficulty making this tough decision and it took a few meetings to reach it after much discussion on the risks to community safety compared against the benefits enjoyed by our Membership offered by Wetum Road travel to the south.
PEOT representatives met with Council on December 9, 2020 to discuss the decision. Council could have rescinded the motion passed in March 2020 which delegated authority to the PEOT and make a subsequent decision that Wetum Road would be built in 2021. After its own debate about the decision, Council chose not to take such action and instead agreed that the PEOT decision was appropriate as it places the health and safety of the Membership as the highest priority.
We assure you, both the PEOT and the Council had a tough time with this decision, we are aware of how many of the Membership enjoy the freedom Wetum Road provides to travel at your own schedule to visit family and friends, and for employment or recreational and leisure activities, and of course to shop for groceries and other essentials for your home. However, protecting the health and well-being of the Membership is our primary and most important responsibility as leaders.
As we stated previously, a COVID-19 outbreak here would quickly overwhelm our limited health care infrastructure, and the Council and PEOT will continue to do everything within their power to prevent this.
The PEOT will be formulating a plan on how to use the funds that would have been spent on Wetum Road to otherwise provide direct benefits to the Membership over the winter months.
In a pandemic we must all make sacrifices and put the needs of others before our own, we must protect each other, particularly our most vulnerable. This has required PEOT and the Council to make some tough decisions, but these decisions are in the best interest of the Membership.
Council and the PEOT continue to strongly advise against all non-essential travel, including visits both into and out of the community over the holiday season.