The information checkpoint has been in place for months and staff there have been subject to threats (RCMP photo)

The information checkpoint has been in place for months and staff there have been subject to threats (RCMP photo)

Threats, racism being directed at COVID-19 checkpoint staff: Remote B.C. First Nation

The staff at the checkpoint have been subject to threatening behaviour on multiple occasions

Staff at the Nuxalk Nation’s emergency operations information checkpoint on Highway 20 have been subject to threats and aggressive behaviour on multiple occasions, said centre director Jessica Miller. The Nuxalk are located near Bella Coola on B.C.’s central coast and have been urging people to stay away in fear of COVID-19 spreading to their community.

Miller said there have been at least two serious incidents where staff felt they were directly threatened, including one incident where a traveler said he had COVID-19 and threatened to spit on them.

“Just under a week ago our staff encountered a traveler that refused to cooperate with the information requested and said he would spread COVID by spitting on them,” said Miller. “They’ve also experienced underlying racism and aggressive behaviour.”

The emergency operations centre also reported that another traveler refused to slow down or stop and instead accelerated towards checkpoint staff before slamming on the brakes.

“Our staff member was almost hit by this person and this is not the first time there has been an encounter like this with this individual,” Miller said. “It is understandably extremely upsetting for our staff members, our team and leadership, and we are all very shaken up by the incident.”

The information checkpoint has been in place since March 25 and was recently moved from the bottom of the hill to Kettle Pond on Highway 20.

Miller said while the majority of people who pass through the checkpoint are respectful, incidents like these are disturbing and are being taken seriously. Miller says both incidents are being reported to the RCMP.

READ MORE: Remote First Nation on B.C.’s central coast asking non-essential travellers to stay away

More to come.

CoronavirusIndigenousracism

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