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Kehewin sets up soft checkpoints in and out of reserve, under state of local emergency

Kehewin is under a local state of emergency due to COVID-19 for a week.

As of Saturday, Kehewin Cree Nation’s Emergency Management Committee has set up soft checkpoints at highway entrances to monitor people coming in and out of the reserve.

“The checkpoints were set up to help our precautionary measures,” said Chief Vernon Watchmaker on Kehewin’s communication YouTube channel.

He explained last week this is meant to get a better understanding of the traffic going through the reserve and to mitigate potential spread in Kehewin.

Starting on Tuesday, a curfew is established on the reserve from 8:00pm-6:00am.

“This is to ensure the safety of our members to limit non-essential travel, so we kindly ask you to remain in your homes and limit yourselves to essential and medical travelling only,” said Watchmaker.

They are accepting applications for people to work at the soft checkpoint areas.

On the weekend, the province said there are no cases of COVID-19 on a First Nations reserve.

The band office has been closed and the high school in Kehewin has become the emergency commander centre, said Watchmaker, including media relations.

Kehewin council and the Emergency Management Committee have created a website and phoneline 1-833-Kehewin to reach out to on and off-reserve members.

They are also providing multiple video updates through the week on the measures they are taking in Kehewin.

On March 24, they published a letter to off-reserve members on how to register for financial assistance.

In Kehewin, there is one doctor and three nurses.

Chief Vernon Watchmaker said the Emergency Management Committee continues to meet daily and will continue to share information as time goes on.

“We’ve gone through a lot of scenarios in case we do have a case here. Of course, we have extreme measures but we are still discussing those and we have options,” said Watchmaker.

“At the end of the day, it’s about protecting our community members and their safety and their well being is a priority for leadership. We need to make sure that we carry that message out that’s being relayed nationally and globally: stay home, stay connected, stay safe.”

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