COVID-19 Year 1 – Acknowledging the lives of those lost to the pandemic

SIX NATIONS — It has now been one full year since Six Nations of the Grand River declared a community emergency and has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic — a tragedy that has claimed lives around the world.

Six Nations has not announced the names of those who have died. Officials with SNGR say this decision was made to protect the identities of surviving families.

Two Row Times would like to respect the request that those individuals remain unnamed in the public discourse to protect members. However it is important to acknowledge the profound loss the community has suffered and gratitude for the lives of the five individuals who have passed on.

On March 10, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. Three days later, Six Nations declared a state of emergency in the community and began their pandemic response. All schools and community agencies were ordered closed until April 6.

On April 8, 2020, Six Nations announced the first COVID-19 related death — an 83 year old male. It was reported that individual did not contract the virus in the community and later died in hospital.

The second death came nearly a year later on February 2, 2021 —  an elderly male in his 70s. The news of his passing came one day after SNGREC declared a community outbreak linked to a large assembly that attended ceremonial gatherings at a Gaiwiyo longhouse on the territory.

The third loss for the community came just two weeks later on February 15 — a  73 year old woman from the territory. As case positivity rates skyrocketed in the community, Ontario was ending a nearly 10 week lockdown. Despite surrounding regions easing restrictions, SNGREC issued an extension of the Black Alert level of it’s pandemic response protections and urged community members to reach out for mental health supports to help cope with pandemic exhaustion and grief.

The fourth and fifth deaths on Six Nations came this past week A 76 year old female died on March 4. Her brother, a 73 year old male, died four days later on March 8.

The loss of these 5 individuals lives to the community has been profound. All of them were community knowledge keepers and they leave behind families overcoming both COVID-19 and grief.

Two Row Times would like to extend condolences to the families who have lost loved ones over the course of the pandemic. We echo the pleadings of health officials here at home and around the world. Please follow public health guidance. Wear a mask. Stay home. Wash your hands.

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