WINNIPEG -- Two northern Manitoba First Nations have declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our Chief and Council is extremely concerned about the public health risk and on March 12 our Communicable Disease Emergency Health plan was activated,” said Chief Harold Turner of Misipawistik Cree Nation, located in Grand Rapids, in a March 24 news release.

“Today we passed a Resolution to declare a state of emergency.”

The state of emergency means the following measures are in place:

  • No public gatherings of more than five people, including more than five people at a home who don’t normally live there;
  • Non-urgent out of town travel isn’t advised;
  • Visiting with people from out of town isn’t advised;
  • A limit of five customers inside Pelican Landing at a time, no children allowed;
  • A limit of 10 customers inside MCN Foods at a time, no children allowed;
  • A limit of one customer per household/vehicle at Pelican Landing and MCN Foods;
  • MCN Foods is reserving the hour of 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily for people who are elderly, have existing health conditions or are vulnerable; and
  • The use of the MCN/UCN Regional Access Centre is suspended, including all classes and instructor residences.

“We are basing our plan for COVID-19 on evidence-based information we have received from health professionals,” Turner said.

“We are asking Band members to help us prevent the introduction of the COVID-19 virus in our area by following the community guidelines until further notice.”

Other measures put in place include the restriction of non-essential travel for band members, closing administrative offices to the public, and postponing social gatherings and recreational programming.


Barren Lands First Nation and the community council of Brochet, Man., have also declared a state of emergency.

“By declaring a state of emergency, we are acting proactively to ensure that the COVID-19 virus does not spread to our community,” said Chief John Clarke in a news release.

“We are requesting all of our citizens to self-isolate to assist in our response efforts and shorten the duration of the pandemic,” noting the community has a limited healthcare capacity and deals with overcrowding in homes.

The chief said the state of emergency means not meeting in groups and practicing good hygiene and sanitation. He said they have banned all travel in and out of the community, and that Barren Lands First Nation is under lockdown, except for those who provide essential services.

The First Nation is asking the province and federal government to close winter roads into Brochet and Barren Lands and help to stop all flights coming in, except those for emergencies or medevac.