CARRY THE KETTLE FIRST NATION, SASK. -- Carry the Kettle First Nation has entered lockdown after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared.

Carry the Kettle currently has eight active cases and is one of 18 outbreaks declared on First Nations in Saskatchewan.

Band members are allowed to leave the First Nation for essentials, like groceries or medication, but Chief Brady O'Watch said a family of several households could nominate a grocery shopper to help limit the number of individuals leaving.

"Ultimately what we're doing, we're just trying to limit the flow of traffic," O'Watch said during a zoom interview.

Non-band members are not permitted past the border security, with the exception of essential service workers like teachers, who have to undergo a screening process.

Alongside the border control, band members also have to adhere to a 6 p.m. curfew.

“We do a lockdown, it's for the elders and the children, so when we start talking about the safety and the health of our children and elders a lot of people are very receptive to it," Chief O’Watch explained.

The school on Carry the Kettle First Nation is currently closed with the students having access to iPads to keep them in constant contact with their teachers.

Chief O’Watch has also been empasizing the importance of PPE. Those items are distributed to band members in case they leave the First Nation.

These resources also include a constant flow of information about COVID-19, which doesn't stop at the individual First Nations. Carry the Kettle's tribal council, the File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council, sees most of its First Nations in clusters and the pandemic has opened the door for communication.

"[They’re] kind of supporting one another, communicating with one another on what steps one nation was having that might impact another nation," Gaylene Anaquod, the pandemic lead for File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council, said.

Anaquod said border security is the most effective way to mitigate the spread and is a tactic that has been widely used since April.

She added traditional healing is seeing a huge resurgence on the First Nations, but there is also anticipation for the vaccine.

Indigenous Services Canada said there is a plan in place to dedicate part of the dosages to Indigenous communities, beginning with the most vulnerable.

“Certainly those will be a priority first, eventually everyone will get the vaccine,” Dr. Ibrahim Khan, a Saskatchewan Health Officer said.

He added the vaccine will be distributed on a volunteer basis - but all the information necessary to make a decision will be readily available.