CBC Radio interview of Grand Chief George Mackenzie

On March 18, 2020 Grand Chief George Mackenzie was interviewed by CBC radio host Cecilia Boyd on the COVID-19 virus. 
Below are noted points by the Grand Chief George Mackenzie
  • As many of you have already heard by watching the news on television or listening to the radio, there is a virus that is making people sick that is spreading into all the countries of the world.
  • The virus has been named COVID-19.
  • At this time the virus is not circulating locally in our communities and there are no reported cases in the NWT – but that will likely change.
  • People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small drops from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 breathes, coughs or sneezes. These drops land on objects and surfaces around the person. 
  • Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these things, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or breathes out droplets.
  • Social distancing – keeping away from each other -  is very important at this time. As much as possible we should be STAYING AT HOME.
  • If we must go out we should not be shaking hands with each other, we should keep our distance – at least 2 meters -  and we must wash our hands frequently.

What are the symptoms I should watch for?

  • About 80% of people who catch COVID-19 will have mild symptoms.
  • Older patients and those with chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe illness
  • Severe COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, muscle aches and tiredness, and difficulty breathing.

What are the risks to Behchokǫ̀, Gamètì, Wekweètì and Whatì ?

  •   If a COVID-19 outbreak happens in our communities, it may be difficult for people to go into quarantine (be by themselves without contact with anyone) as many of our houses are crowded.
  • As a result, the outbreak could last for a long time and be passed between many people. An outbreak is when a large number of people suddenly get sick.
  • It is important to avoid large gatherings, wash our hands frequently and avoid close contact with others.

What measures is the Tlicho Government taking in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • The TG has cancelled all upcoming gatherings where large groups of people come together, such as the Youth Conference, Hand Games Tournament and other meetings that were being organized. As well, the daycares will be closed to protect our children.
  • The TG has also stopped staff from travelling in the south and is discouraging staff from travelling in general.
  • As of Thursday March 19th, 2020, we will be closing our offices – we will only have staff in our offices for essential services. The public will not have access.
  • If you need to contact us please call our main office lines and we will get messages to the staff you need to talk to.
  • The TG is working closely with the TCSA and the Community Governments to ensure the best things are done in the communities to keep the spread of the disease as low as possible. 

What other measures are taking place in the Tłı̨chǫ region?

  • You will likely have heard by now that the GNWT has cancelled all schools until after Easter, TG is following that lead and all daycares will be closed until the same time.
  • The TCSA and community governments are carrying out actions to protect our people – some of these are difficult but we fully support what they are doing and urge you to listen to their advice.

What measures  can I take and members of my family take to avoid getting COVID-19?

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE with unwashed hands
  • Avoid shaking hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill
  • Avoid crowds and self-distance from others
  • Stay home if you don’t have an essential need to go out.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands
  • If you do not have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm
  • Do not spit in public
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (such as door handles, keyboards, light switches, phones etc.).


Where do I get more information about COVID-19?

  • We need to be very careful about not getting the wrong information about what is happening with this virus.
  • Sometimes the information we hear from other people, and on Facebook, is not correct and can cause us to get upset or do the wrong thing for no good reasons.
  • The Health Department of the Government of the NWT is working closely with the Government of Canada to help all Canadians deal with this virus.
  • They tell Canadians what they should be doing and what is happening on a regular basis and it is important for us to listen to their words.
  • As it becomes necessary, and there is new information, we will provide more information. 


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