Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

The BC Assembly of First Nations has spoken out against the stigmatization of First Nations as the COVID-19 pandemic surges on.

Following provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s comments related to the racism and discrimination against the Cowichan Tribes on Thursday, as the Indigenous community battles a COVID outbreak, the BCAFN released a statement of its own on Friday.

“We must not direct fear, blame, and anger towards groups of people who are misperceived as a threat. Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus,” said Regional Chief Terry Teegee. “These are dangerous times as we experience the increasing visible social sickness of racism, and both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples must pull together and work against its harmful effects. We are hopeful the end of the pandemic is in sight and we can support each other and show empathy to reduce the hurt and pain that can deeply harm communities for generations.”

READ MORE: Racism towards Cowichan Tribes in COVID-19 fight denounced by federal minister

In an attempt to be transparent and limit the spread, Cowichan Tribes leadership opted to go public with the band’s outbreak, which has grown to 76 cases (six recovered) since Jan. 1. Chief and council issued a shelter-in-place order on Jan. 6 that will last until at least Jan. 22.

While some were grateful for the knowledge, others were quick to judge on social media.

The BCAFN news release also said “social media platforms have been consistently used to fuel polarization and have hosted an explosion of hate speech in recent years. While there have been some changes to social media, we must ensure that these companies continue to work against bigotry and threats posted on their platforms. Everyone can also fight racism by stepping up when they see it happen and call it out.”

On Thursday Henry added her name to the list of leaders speaking out against the hate. Henry said she was “saddened and disturbed” after hearing the reports of what was going on in the Cowichan region.

“This type of racism cannot be tolerated,” Henry said. “This must stop. Racism has no place in our society, in our communities here in British Columbia and we must all take the time to speak up and speak out.”

Others who have spoken out include Cowichan Valley politicians, medical personnel, and the federal Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller.

READ MORE: COVID clarity: Feds say 42-day gap for 2-dose vaccines OK as provinces race to immunity

READ MORE: More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

CoronavirusFirst Nationsracism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Debra Lynn photo
Mysterious smoke cloud seen in Seavac Centre

Fire crews did a thorough sweep of the centre.

North Island Gazette file photo of Port McNeill council.
Heated conversation occurs at Port McNeill council over policy request

Port McNeill mayor Gaby Wickstrom wants to see a change in the… Continue reading

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
The Port Alice pulp mill site is being ‘recycled’

Bankruptcy company is overseeing de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring.

Port Hardy Senior Citizens’ Society president Rosaline Glynn holds up the certificate from B.C. Premier John Horgan next to Loaves & Fishes director Peter Sinclair, vice president Kris Huddlestan, and Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas. (Submitted photo)
Port Hardy council to nominate Glynn for the Order of British Columbia

Glynn’s nomination was endorsed unanimously by council.

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read