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

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Chemainus teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

The frequent disruptions to water service in Chemainus are expected to be a lot less after North Cowichan replaces the Smiley Road water main. (File photo)
Smiley Road water main in Chemainus to be replaced

$890,000 project expected to be completed this spring

Cowichan Tribes open up vaccinations for members who are 40 and older. (File photo)
Cowichan Tribes opens up vaccinations for members 18 and older

Vaccination sessions to be held over weekend

Kim McGregor died in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run accident in Chemainus. (Photo submitted)
Victim identified in Valentine’s Day Chemainus hit-and-run

Kim McGregor grew up in Chemainus and had recently returned to be close to his parents

The Cowichan Valley Regional District will use fire hydrants to flush water systems in Youbou, Honeymoon Bay, Mesachie Lake and Bald Mountain in March. (Robert Barron/Gazette)
Water system flushing in Cowichan Lake communities in March may cause discolouration warns CVRD

Water pipes in Youbou, Honeymoon Bay, Mescahie Lake, and Bald Mountain targeted

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way inside business in Nanaimo

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres on Friday

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

RCMP say a woman turned herself in to police after hitting a pedestrian and fleeing the scene of the accident in downtown Nanaimo on Friday morning. (File photo)
Driver flees, then turns herself in after hitting pedestrian in downtown Nanaimo

RCMP say woman was struck in marked crosswalk after driver ran red light

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

Most Read