The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is committed to building strong and collaborative partnerships across all levels of government.
The swift resolution to the recent cluster of COVID-19 cases in Fort Liard demonstrates how powerful those partnerships can be.
All partners in last month’s pandemic response worked together to quickly and effectively implement the orders of the territory’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) to help avert what could have become a widespread outbreak of COVID-19.
The GNWT response team thanked community residents for their commitment to adhering to public health orders, noting this cooperation was equally essential to controlling viral transmission in Fort Liard.
Before the CPHO issued a 14-day Containment Order in Fort Liard late on January 16, the GNWT pandemic response team had already taken several critical early steps:
- The GNWT reached out to Indigenous government and community leadership to initiate a coordinated response.
- The community of Fort Liard and GNWT emergency management teams began working together.
- Fort Liard health centre staff were joined by a Rapid Response Team deployed to the community by the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA) to help with testing, contact tracing, and monitoring.
- The COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat deployed additional Public Health Officers to support the response, including education and enforcement.
- The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) provided a coordination role for Regional Emergency Response Committee work in Fort Liard.
- MACA also deployed staff to the community to provide on-the-ground communications and coordination support to aid residents and the response to public health orders.
- Secretariat Communications staff prepared specific radio advertising and posters to inform, engage and encourage residents to strictly adhere to public health measures to contain the virus.
- A previously-scheduled COVID-19 vaccine clinic went ahead at the end of January with enthusiastic participation by residents.
Together, community leadership and the GNWT collaborated to activate emergency management operations to address the needs of Fort Liard, including:
- Gift cards for groceries and supplies
- Food and supply delivery to isolators
- Transportation for staff and residents needing testing
- Lodging for Rapid Response Team members and those needing isolation
- Communications efforts – including those in South Slavey and a partnership with CKLB Radio for the nine-day territory-wide Dear Fort Liard support campaign.
In a crisis, information is power. To ensure everyone had a common understanding of the situation, the Hamlet and the GNWT worked together and shared daily updates on operations, communications and public health investigations and on-the-ground risk mitigation measures.
“Leaders lead best when we lead together – and we saw that in action in Fort Liard. It’s why collaboration and partnership are an important priority for this government. By putting these principles into action and working collaboratively we contained a very difficult situation in Fort Liard. The GNWT is committed to protecting residents as we continue to navigate the pandemic, and this is best achieved by partnerships with Indigenous and municipal leadership.”
- Caroline Cochrane, Premier of the Northwest Territories, and Minister Responsible for the COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat
"To respond to clusters and outbreaks, trust is essential. Trust allows people to feel safe in coming forward, getting tested, and making the sacrifices necessary to push back on tough situations. Local leadership helped ensure that trust was there when health services arrived on-the-ground. With that foundation, we were able to successfully contain COVID-19 while getting vaccines into arms in Fort Liard.”
-Julie Green, Minister of Health and Social Services
“Working in partnership with community governments and its leaders creates strong, healthy communities where all residents can thrive and live well. The successful containment of the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Fort Liard demonstrates what is possible when governments work in partnership with the best interests of the community and its residents at heart.”
-Paulie Chinna, Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs
“While the recent events in Fort Liard were worrisome and unfortunate, they did demonstrate something I’ve long known – when governments and community leadership all pull together in the same direction, we’re able to serve our people best. I’d like to thank all of our response partners, and perhaps most importantly, the residents of Liard, for their cooperation, diligence and swift action. It’s because of this action, our people are now safe.”
-Shane Thompson, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Nehendeh
“Leadership is not a position or a title. It's about having the ability to lead with immediate action to guide one another on the importance of working together to implement unity and safety during difficult times. I would like to commend our residents for taking immediate action to be tested, complying with our 2-week containment order, and successfully vaccinating 85% of our community. We will continue to work to the best of our ability to keep our residents safe. Please remember to be kind to one another and stay safe.”
- Hilary Deneron, Mayor, Fort Liard
- The territory’s Emergency Management Office worked with regional and local emergency management staff to coordinate aid to residents in Fort Liard.
- The COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat and MACA deployed additional staff to the community to assist with logistics and enforcement.
- Daily updates in both English and South Slavey were broadcast on community radio throughout the first week of the containment order – and additional public health and supportive messaging was also placed.
- The GNWT worked with the Hamlet to secure interpreters to record messages in South Slavey.
- Situational updates were shared daily through the first 10 days of the containment order.
- The GNWT partnered with CKLB to deliver a social marketing campaign called #DearFortLiard to encourage support and solidarity from across the territory for Fort Liard residents.
Media Requests, please contact:
Manager of Communications
COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat
Department of Health and Social Services
Government of the Northwest Territories
Cell 867.446.5799 | Phone 867-767-9488, ext. 61101