Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update (March 20)March 20, 2020

Weli-eksitpu'k! Good morning from Prince Edward Island in Canada. I pray you and your family are well and in good health in these days.

These past two mornings when I woke, I was greeted with news from around the world of borders now being closed to all international travel in yet another of many measures being taken by governments to slow the spread of COVID 19.

As with all other communities, organizations, and institutions, NAIITS has been closely monitoring the situation, making decisions day by day, sometimes hour by hour as circumstances changed. One of the unique realities of NAIITS is that we are indeed a global Indigenous community. And, at times, along with the great blessing this has been, it has created a very complex community environment. Today we are realizing just how complex as we try and navigate multiple national jurisdictions and circumstances dealing with this pandemic.

As we monitored the situation we had initially pegged March 31st as the date on which we would make a final go or no go decision concerning the annual NAIITS symposium. The changes that greeted us these past mornings, however, made it clear that this timeframe is no longer realistic. Many of you are already facing the need to cancel tickets within the coming days or be left with the financial burden.

With that in mind we have determined to cancel the in-person symposium at Sioux Falls Seminary June 4-6. Instead, we will be moving to a virtual symposium delivery complete with streaming and breakout sessions. While the full scope of this has not yet been determined, we expect to draw together the details within the next 14 to 21 days.

In the meantime, there are several things that we would invite you to do right away.

First, be sure to follow all instructions from your local health authorities and the officials charged with your care during this pandemic. It is essential that we care for ourselves and those around us in a good way – especially the elderly and those already weakened and infirm.

Second, please be sure that you practice good self-care, including thorough, regular hand washing and appropriate social distancing. This will aid each of our communities in our full recovery from this pandemic.

It’s not a coincidence that this year’s theme is a conversation about Living into Heath and Well being in our communities – and doing so in a good way.

Third, whether a student, presenter, or other member of the NAIITS community, please be sure not to cancel out the days of June 4-6 you originally scheduled for the symposium. Instead, make arrangements for a comfortable place to connect to the Internet for the streaming and small group interactivity that will be provided for the event. We want and need to hear from you as we have each and every year regardless of the vast social distances between us!

In the days ahead we will provide further instruction as to how to connect to NAIITS virtual symposium this year. All current registrants will receive an e-mail with instructions and the new Registration for the Virtual Symposium will go live within a few days. If you have any questions concerning the virtual symposium, contact us using symposium@naiits.com.

Some additional instructions:

And now let me say a word to this year’s graduates.

If you are graduating this year, we deeply regret that this will not happen in-person at the summer session. We know that you look forward to the very special way in which our community honours its graduates, and pray that you will consider being with us next June at Acadia for the ceremonies. We’ll do our utmost to make it a special occasion!

Please be sure to take full advantage of the technologies that are available to us in these days to remain connected one with another as an Indigenous learning community. The technologies available to us make it possible to stay connected even as we are apart. Use Zoom, Facebook, What’s App, text and all other means to stay connected and bless one another.

Finally, let me invite you to continue to pray in whatever tradition of prayer has become your custom. Each of us needs to make request of our Creator/Restorer for the strength that we will need to endure the challenges that lie ahead. And, we will need to make similar petitions for one another’s health and well-being during this difficult season. Let’s also pray that in the coming year we will gather once again face-to-face, person-to-person to enjoy the opening ceremonies, conversations, celebrations and closing together, out on the land.

Until we see you virtually in the next few months,

N’multes!

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NAIITS Covid-19
A Word from Terry LeBlanc

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