The arrival of COVID-19 in a remote community coupled with a shutdown of the water treatment plant is the kind of one-two punch that could leave any town reeling.
But when this very situation hit Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation in northern Saskatchewan, the Indigenous community of almost 1,000 rallied to find solutions.
RCMP officers at the local detachment were part of a community-wide effort to deliver hundreds of 18-litre containers of water to households on the Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation in late November.
Throughout the pandemic, officers have been busy working together, along with the community's inter-agency COVID team, to develop solutions to keep residents safe," says Sgt. David Pidlisny, the detachment commander in Fond du Lac.
The inter-agency COVID team came together at the start of the pandemic in March. It includes Fond du Lac RCMP, local health and education officials, Fond du Lac Fire Department, Canadian Rangers and other residents and community leaders.
We wanted to have everyone's voice at the table when it came to following policies and figuring out ways to help people though this," says Diane McDonald, who leads the inter-agency COVID team.
The First Nation's water treatment plant first experienced problems in late October, when it lost power. Then the community reported its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 6.
On Nov. 9, a state of emergency was declared.
Water treatment problems are never good but it's particularly bad when you need clean water for basic hygiene," says McDonald.
Sgt. Pidlisny says being part of the solution was the natural thing to do.
The community was very appreciative of the efforts made by the members of our detachment," says Pidlisny. "
At each house we delivered to, we would receive a smile and wave from the occupants or a sincere thank you from them. It felt good to know we could do something so simple to make their day a little better."
Fond du Lac RCMP officers also supported the community's efforts to self-isolate by delivering groceries and transporting essential workers and their equipment around town.
The water treatment plant has since been repaired.