Tansi family and friends. 

I want to wish you Happy Easter but also give you another update as we face these unprecedented times together.  The numbers in Manitoba and the north continue to rise. In Canada the number of Indigenous peoples with the virus has almost doubled since last Friday.

I know you are feeling anxious and that your personal freedoms have been taken away.    We all feel like that so we want you to understand my Council and I are only taking these steps to SAVE LIVES.

From information around the world we are starting to see fewer deaths where leaders put stringent measures in place as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately, the only tool we have globally is for all of us to STAY AT HOME.

This is not a game.  This is about saving lives.  We are trying to save your life and those of your family and friends.  If anyone thinks it is easy for us as leaders to make these hard decisions, think again.

I hear your frustration. I feel your anxiety.   I never imagined in my lifetime that toilet paper would be the most precious commodity any of us would be trying to buy.    I never imagined a time when the shelves in stores in this country would be bare.  We are not alone.  This is happening all over the world.

We have considered whether it would be possible to lift the lockdown even for a day or two but our health professionals have advised that the risk is just too great.  Every day the Chief Health Officers across the country tell us to STAY HOME.

We know this is hard but we have to live like this for awhile if we are to keep people from dying.  Now, all of us should have a better appreciation of the sacrifices our ancestors made to survive.  And, we must not lose sight of the fact that THIS IS ABOUT OUR SURVIVAL.

You do not want to be responsible for the deaths of your family and friends because you decided not to STAY HOME.   Is having freedom to die and causing others to die by  going visiting in the community, or travelling  to Thompson or Winnipeg the kind of freedom we want to celebrate?  When considering your decision, think whether your individual freedom to live your life any way you choose is more important than the health and safety of all of us?  Do you think it is okay not to follow the isolation rules when people return to the community after medical appointments or treatment?

As your Chief, I am not prepared to sacrifice the health and wellbeing of our people for political gain.  If this was about popularity, we would just open up the check-stop and let everyone travel wherever they want to go and then let everyone come back home.  But this is not a popularity contest, it is about showing leadership to save lives.  This means the lockdown has to stay in place and if people refuse to follow the rules then we will have no choice but to take action against those people.  The province also announced it will be introducing more stringent measures next week.

This virus is a silent killer and it could infect anyone of us.  We must listen to the expertise of our health professionals and STAY HOME as hard as that is.  Please co-operate, do your best to STAY HOME.  Be supportive of the efforts we must all make to save lives.  Focus on your own physical and emotional health.  Focus on your kids.

Think about our customary laws and spend time teaching them to your children and grandchildren.  Be good to each other and be responsible as all of our lives depend upon the choices each one of us is making.