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Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

A community update with Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribal Chair Beth Drost

During the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, WTIP Community Radio has been checking in with local government officials to learn more about community response to the virus. WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribal Chair Beth Drost on Tuesday, May 12 to learn how the Grand Portage is preparing for loosening COVID-19 restrictions.

Chair Drost said as of the 13th, the Grand Portage Lodge & Casino has been closed for eight weeks. She said work continues at the lodge and casino, establishing protocols for opening the restaurant and greeting guests. A deep cleaning of the entire facility will be underway soon. Drost noted that the date that Grand Portage Lodge & Casino opens does also depend on when the U.S. – Canadian border is open for nonessential travel.

Grand Portage, like many other communities, has seen its share of cancelled events. The traditional Mother’s Day PowWow was cancelled and the Grand Portage June Health Fair, a longstanding event combining health tips and socializing, has been cancelled. The Rendezvous Days Committee meets this week and a decision may be made then regarding whether or not the 2020 Powwow will be held.

Rhonda Silence noted that the Grand Portage Tribal Council primary election is coming up on June 9. Drost is running for re-election, challenged by Robert Deschampe and Earl Johnson. There is also a committee person seat on the June ballot and running for that seat are incumbent Rick Anderson, Marie Spry, Eric Pehrson, Orlando Swader, Rob Hull and Esther Deschampe.

WTIP is reaching out to all of the candidates to offer them the opportunity to do an interview regarding their candidacy. Rhonda Silence asked Drost if she believes it is worthwhile for candidates to spend some time with WTIP. Drost said yes, adding that the local radio station is a great forum for candidates. She said, “If you’re up for up for the challenge of getting your views out there, I encourage all the candidates to call in and get on that broader audience—to be heard and to let people know your issues…We all need to represent and have our people see what we can do for them,” said Drost.

Drost said she would like to end her weekly summary with an update on meals prepared and delivered to community members who are staying in place. She said the staff at the Elderly Nutrition Program (ENP) has been working incredibly hard to ensure homebound folks are being fed. She said 1,703 lunches and dinner were served in April, but after the interview reached out again to let WIP know that the actual number of 3,250.

Drost said Miigwech to the hard-working folks putting those meals together and to all the frontline workers in the community.