Canada’s military has been operating in B.C. as a result of a COVID-19 request since April 12.
Five members of the Canadians rangers have been working on Haida Gwaii following a local request for assistance.
“The 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group have since been providing municipal officials with logistical support including wellness checks; gathering data and statistics on the current state of the community relative to the COVID-19 relief efforts; and delivering critical goods to people in need including groceries and prescription medications,” the Department of National Defense (DND) said.
The islands have been very proactive in working to ensure the pandemic does not take a foothold in the remote archipelago off B.C.’s northwest coast.
As early as the third week in March, the Council of Haida Nation was asking all non-residents or leisure travellers to stay away from Haida Gwaii to limit any spread of COVID-19.
“Given our culture, remote geography and limited healthcare resources, we have made this critical decision to protect Island citizens, and especially our cherished elders, language speakers and knowledge holders,” the nation said at the time.
More recently, islanders were telling people arriving by ferry to turn around and leave on the next ferry.
“The communities of Haida Gwaii are no longer welcoming or serving visitors and people who are not full-time residents of Haida Gwaii,” a news release said.
Islanders intend to keep things that way until any second infection wave has passed. Haida Gwaii has had no COVID-19 outbreaks yet, and islanders want to keep it that way. The island has only 12 hospital beds and just two ventilators.
DND said Rangers have been given information on mitigation and preventative measures including physical distancing, frequent and thorough hand washing, and wearing proper personal protective equipment when appropriate.
“This information is continuously updated as we learn more about the virus and get further direction from experts at the Public Health Agency of Canada,” DND said.
Canadian Ranger patrols have also been tasked to assist northern communities Quebec and Saskatchewan.