Nuxalk hereditary chiefs Q’umulha (Rhonda Schooner) and Nanus (Mike Tallio) at a checkpoint on Highway 20 in the Bella Coola Valley, activated March 25. (Nuxalk Nation/Williams Lake Tribune)

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Bella Coola’s COVID-19 checkpoint on Highway 20 has been in place for almost three months, imposed by the Nuxalk Nation. Haida Gwaii and Bella Bella on the B.C. coast have extended their travel restriction checkpoints to May 31. Tahltan, Nisga’a and Nakazdli Whut’en in the north have essential-only entry.

Tofino and Ucluelet saw checkpoints in March from the Tla-o-qui-at First Nation to back up the message of other communities reluctant to resume welcoming visitors. Those communities along with Port Renfrew, the popular fishing village on Vancouver Island, are preparing to welcome tourists back as province-wide pandemic restrictions ease.

RELATED: Port Renfrew eyes reopening tourism hotspot

RELATED: Tla-o-qui-aht stop traffic to Tofino, Ucluelet

As Premier John Horgan promotes tourism within B.C. for the summer of the pandemic, the blunt message to some tourists to turn around is acceptable, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says. She urged people to support B.C.’s tourism-reliant businesses and communities, but only if invited.

“The only caveat I have is that we have many communities, small communities, particularly our First Nations communities, who have understandably a greater degree of risk and loss that could happen if this virus was introduced in those communities,” Henry said at her daily briefing May 23. “So I would leave it to them to determine whether it is safe for people to travel to their communities and it is their – it’s up to them to determine when they’re ready for that, if at all, this summer. And it may be that some areas will not be appropriate for us to visit unless we’re invited in.”

In a year marked by other kinds of roadblocks directed at the Coastal Gaslink pipeline and resource projects in general, Henry’s avoidance of describing a “right” to Indigenous territorial claims is prudent. Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth are responsible for COVID-19 public health restrictions, including directing police and other officials to enforce them.

At the same time, federal and provincial governments have been reluctant to challenge any Indigenous assertion, including the Ontario Provincial Police declining to enforce a court order clearing the CN Rail system of Mohawk blockades in support of a handful of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposing Coastal Gaslink.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

Owner of Langford construction company gets nine months for sexual assault

Kyle Mostowy already spent time in prison for sexually assaulting employees

Victoria Clipper suspends services through April 2021

International travel restrictions, COVID-19 uncertainty lead to decision

Who is the average Sookie?

Statistics Canada, community members offer glimpse into who the people of Sooke are

Faulty janitorial equipment likely caused Saanich school fire

Saturday morning fire damaged roof of Strawberry Vale Elementary

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Fisherman snags barracuda off Vancouver Island in rare encounter

Ferocious fish, not native to Canada, was netted and released in Alberni Inlet

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Most Read