The COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges for us in terms of providing services and delivering products to our communities. With all the restrictions that had come into place we had to pursue alternative purchasing options which were both challenging and time consuming. At times we were unsure if we would even be able to purchase all the needed winter road supplies.

In order to facilitate the extensive travel that is required to access our drive-in communities, a number of new trucks were purchased. These trucks are used by the community-based staff and by the Directors of Services for these communities.

Staff

  • Community Development Liaison - Frank Abraham
  • Community Operations Assistant - Loretta Desjarlais
  • Maintenance (BON HQ) - Dennis Yaroshinski
  • Janitor - Destiny Raven

When pandemic-related restrictions set in, requests for recreational equipment such as swings, trampolines, and exercise equipment increased. These products sold out in most stores and we had to search neighboring cities to purchase some of these products. Restrictions were also placed on the quantities that could be purchased in most stores and this is an ongoing challenge that we continue to face in light of the high volume of items we require.

We hauled 40 loads of supplies to the remote communities and made use of the community trucks and our two trailers. We worked 21 days straight in March to purchase, pick up and deliver supplies to our communities. In addition, a total of 80 canoes were purchased and 14 were delivered on the winter road (7 for Pauingassi and 7 for Little Grand Rapids). Shortly thereafter we received 50 more canoes which we then started distributing to the other communities with the final deliveries being completed in July.

We began three expansion projects to community-based CFS offices and COVID-19 restrictions required us to work within those parameters in respect of the communities' well-being. In addition to these building projects, the summer months were just as demanding as new programs were developed and required supplies to be purchased and delivered.

In preparation for the current winter road shipments, we started ordering the supplies but were once again challenged in light of the restrictions as determined by the pandemic. We were faced with the ongoing challenge of making a great deal of our purchases online which then resulted in longer than usual wait times to pick up our orders.

Loretta Desjarlais is primarily responsible for making online purchases, making orders as requested by the Agency, and creating an inventory data base to track current purchases and inventory to determine future needs.

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