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Trying times for Tsawwassen First Nation

Leaders address members offering assurances
The TFN's Steve Stark (left) and Ken Baird.

Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Ken Baird and his Executive Council talked about the challenges facing their community in a video presentation this week.

The community leaders mainly focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, assuring members they’re all in this together.

Baird said that they can overcome the pandemic crises through working with their Metro Vancouver colleagues.

“Regardless of colour or race, we need to fight this thing together, stay safe and remain vigilant,” he said.

He also offered his people’s prayers and support to the Squamish First Nation, which last week reported that almost 20 members have contracted COVID-19.

Thanking members for working hard to protect their families during the pandemic, Executive Council member Valerie Cross said that, to their knowledge, no TFN members have contracted the virus.

It’s the TFN’s intention to keep it that way, she said.

“We know that members are struggling during this time. Members are reporting they they’re struggling with reductions in income. Members have also reported struggling with connecting with family, including not being able to cross the border,” she said.

Cross also urged members to stay the course.

“This time of COVID-19 is part of the journey that we’re on. It is not our destiny, nor is it our destination. In this difficult time be brave enough to stay the course and we will survive this. We are built to survive, our ancestors showed us that we are,” she added.

Executive council member Steven Stark said members have also reported an inability to practice their culture, noting social distancing is important, but being together is also important for their culture.

They continue to try and keep touch with members as they adjust to a new way of life, added Stark, adding they everyone is adjusting to the new landscape.

“While the province lifts some restrictions, the TFN is still maintaining social distancing and current measures in place for some time. We have a small population and we definitely want to protect our youth and our elders, and our members abroad and at home as well,” he said.

He also noted staff are working to resolve members’ fear and anxiety on issues such as youth going back to school. 

“Members are struggling with a range of issues. We want you to know that you’re not alone here,” said Stark.

Council member Laura Cassidy noted members are stepping up to help each other, giving special thanks to young people.

Saying the Executive Council continues to prioritize the health and safety of the community, council member Louise Ahlm said closures enacted at the start of the pandemic are still in place, and the TFN is seriously considering response measures as they see COVID-19 numbers rise.