Westbank First Nation is ‘cautiously hopeful’ that the curve will flatten again, even as cases increase in the Okanagan. (Contributed)

Westbank First Nation is ‘cautiously hopeful’ that the curve will flatten again, even as cases increase in the Okanagan. (Contributed)

Westbank First Nation responds to recent uptick in COVID-19 cases

WFN’s CAO Pat Fosbery said they are concerned, but will follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s directions

Despite a spike in recent COVID-19 cases in the Okanagan, Westbank First Nation (WFN) is cautiously hopeful about the community’s reopening.

WFN’s chief administrative officer Pat Fosbery said they’re concerned about the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Kelowna and West Kelowna, but are confident that as long as people continue to do their part in minimizing exposures, the curve will slowly flatten down again.

Fosbery said the nation has been closely following provincial plans and messaging with regards to reopening.

“Through this whole pandemic, we’ve always looked to closely align our actions with (provincial health officer) Dr. Bonnie Henry,” he said.

“We watch her and listen to her messaging and it’s something we try to move lock and step with the province as well.”

He said he regularly communicates with other municipalities as well to see how their reopening activities are going, how they’re handling personal protective equipment (PPE), and how they get the message out to their residents.

So far, reopening has been going well for the nation. As of the end of June, most WFN facilities have reopened, including WFN’s Sportcourt, Sncəwips Heritage Museum, the Health and Wellness Building, parks, and beaches with sports fields open for casual use only.

“It’s been going well, but we’re careful as well. We’re practising social distancing and good hygiene. We have messaging and signage in public places.

We discuss it regularly as a team to ensure that we’re alleviating those anxieties and address the situation on a case by case basis as well,” he added.

Despite the surge, he said they won’t be closing down facilities again though if they had to do it, WFN is ready to do so.

“Right now, we’re at Phase 3 of reopening just as Dr. Henry has recommended and just like where the rest of the province is.”

“We’re just cautiously hopeful. Yes, there’s a spike but I think people anticipate as you go through something like this, that there is going to be a bit of ebb and flow and it’s not just going to be a smooth path,” Fosbery said.

He also confirmed that measures are in place for WFN’s elementary school, sənsisyustən House of Learning, to reopen in the fall. So far, the school and staff are equipped to have in-person learning for all students, but parents who feel they want to keep their children at home are free to do so.

READ: COVID-19: National initiative encourages Canadians to support local

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter


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

Just Posted

(CIty of Kelowna)
Kelowna council shoots down Upper Mission subdivision after 8 years of planning

Thomson Flats would have introduced 680 new homes near Kelowna’s southern boundary

Ice rescue on Shannon Lake. Phil McLachlan, Kelowna Capital News.
‘Ice season is over’; West Kelowna crews rescue man from icy lake

A man in his 60’s was pulled from the waters of Shannon Lake after falling through

HOPE Okanagan’s Stay at Home Gala will raise funds to help serve Kelowna and Vernon’s vulnerable. (HOPE Okanagan)
Non-profit hosts virtual gala to support Okanagan’s vulnerable

HOPE Okanagan wants to raise awareness and support for those struggling in the streets

Summerhill Pyramid Winery. (Contributed)
Fear of ‘hotel in a vineyard’ prompts Kelowna council to defer culinary school decision

City council needs assurance the educational facility proposed at Summerhill Winery will be used as stated

An individual experiencing homelessness stands on Leon Avenue in downtown Kelowna after receiving supplies from the Gospel Mission outreach team. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
New City of Kelowna shelter strategy in the works

The community shelter plan will be based on four core principles: choice, healing, community and safety

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan as Premier John Horgan and Minister Arian Dix look on during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. reports 438 new COVID cases, 2 deaths

Long-term care outbreaks are decreasing

Canadian Mental Health Association staff and volunteers experienced increased Crisis Line calls with COVID-related concerns. (CMHA photo)
North Okanagan MP pushes for national suicide hotline

Mel Arnold seeks support from North Okanagan-Shuswap municipalities for 988 hotline

Okanagan College
Okanagan College holds March Madness fundraiser

Money from the fundraiser will go to support the Okanagan College Foundation

Penticton city council has unanimously shot down an application from BC Housing to keep a shelter for people experiencing homelessness open for an additional year. (Jesse Day - Western News)
Penticton council denies extension of cold weather shelter

The Victory Church shelter will now be told to cease operations April 1

(Black Press file photo)
Penticton man arrested while sleeping in stolen vehicle, again

30-year-old Penticton resident Shane Pope is well-known to police

A town was constructed on the side of a mountain top in Hedley to extract 7.1 tonnes of gold. (Mascotmine.com photo)
Hedley’s Mascot Mine gets $800,000 lift from COVID relief program

Grant will enable the historic mine to open again for tourists

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

Vancouver and Victoria both have a MySafe machine to help reduce overdoses

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read