The Tahltan Nation earlier this year asked visitors to stay away from its territory because of worries about COVID-19. Now it’s getting more serious about the ban.
The nation recently announced it will be blocking access points for hunting and other activities and hiring gatekeepers to keep visitors out. In a recent job posting on Facebook, it said it was seeking people immediately to work 12 hour days from August 1 to October 1, 2020, throughout Tahltan territory.
Responsibilities include informing “hunters and wildlife enthusiasts that Tahlton territory is off limits due to COVID-19 safety measures this season.” Gatekeepers will “collect vehicle licence information” and data about “the number of road users.”
The gates at the access points will also have video surveillance.
The Tahlton Nation is so concerned about visitors because the nearest hospital is about 600 kilometres away, meaning that a coronavirus outbreak could be devastating.
“We have a limited amount of aircraft, airport infrastructure, and pilots available for any emergency medical evacuations. Our clinics have very limited staff, that we desperately need for our local communities and Tahltan people,” it said in an April press release.
In-territory residents are encouraged to not travel beyond Kitimat, Terrace, Prince Rupert and Smithers and also to wear masks in public places.
The Haida Nation has also asked outside visitors to stay away, and last week, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced the Province was supporting this request with the use of extraordinary powers to restrict all non-essential travel to Haida Gwaii.