As 2020 comes to a close, it will be remembered for one thing; the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March the entire province went into lockdown to contain the spread of the virus and prevent the health care system from crashing.

Now leaders are looking back on a year which has changed the lives of many.

“We did manage to keep things going,” explained Peter Beatty, Chief of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation.

“Some of our businesses took a big hit as well, in terms the amount of business that we were doing, but a lot of them as well, or we’re doing well, in spite of the pandemic.”

The Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation was one of the first First Nations to experience COVID-19 as cases began to appear in Southend in mid-March.

Beatty explained that the first restrictions worked well in slowing the virus, but that people became complacent in the summer and fall, which produced an explosion of new cases.

The First Nation has been supporting its people through the pandemic, whether its funding for emergency food or cleaning supplies.

Yet looking ahead, Beatty is hopeful the distribution of a vaccine and immunization will bring some normalcy back. “People can start moving around a little bit more and start enjoying everything that you’re doing before as well,” explained Beatty.

The First Nation will have to navigate a Chief and Council election in the spring.