By Breanne Massey
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) is urging all nations to stay safe celebrating Halloween this autumn.

Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer at FNHA, echoed medical advice from provincial health authority, Dr. Bonnie Henry, indicating that trick or treating can take place with some safety precautions in mind.

“Every year, Halloween is a fun-filled finale to October that delights children and adults alike. However, many people have been asking whether celebrating this tradition can be done safely during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said McDonald in a recent press release. “The answer is that people can participate in Halloween, but as with nearly everything else in 2020, we need to take some precautions and make some adjustments.”

She encourages families to celebrate in small groups with one adult while sticking to one area.

McDonald added it’s important not to crowd doorways while trick or treating and encouraged children to wait their turn to walk to each house to practice physical distancing.

“As Dr. Bonnie Henry announced this week, it is still possible for children to trick-or-treat safely as long as recommendations are followed,” said McDonald. “We ask that children stay with their bubble in their local neighbourhood and trick-or-treat in very small groups. Ideally, there would be one guardian for one or two children as your group (to a maximum of six people) travels around your own block while maintaining physical distancing from others.”

She recommends participants this year wear a face mask with their costumes and bring along hand sanitizer.

In addition, McDonald discourages children from digging into bowls of loose candy that have been touched by many people.

When asked how Shuswap families are celebrating this year, Shuswap Indian Band chief Barbara Coté deferred to the health unit’s advice to keep your cohort small and to follow medical advice from Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“To my knowledge, we haven’t got any additional activities instead of regular Halloween,” explained Cote. “I hope people stick to their small family units and just go to their (cohorts / bubbles).”

Akisqnuk First Nation chief Ryan Nicholas and Columbia Valley Métis Association interim president Monica Fisher were unavailable for comment before the Pioneer went to press.

Métis Nation of B.C. Kootenays regional director Debra Fisher wished the community well and encouraged everyone to take safety precautions.

“I am sending Spooky wishes to all the Trick Or Treaters this Halloween,” said Fisher. “Stay warm, safe and follow protocols and have fun!”


How to stay safe this Halloween



Wear a face mask and bring hand sanitizer with your families

Don’t trick or treat in a large group and avoid joining crowded areas to mitigate the risks of being a “super spreader”

If you’re handing out candy to trick or treaters, please set-up a table with pre-arranged candy so children don’t have to reach into shared bowls

Don’t let your children reach into bowls of loose candy

Follow the B.C. Centre for Disease Control recommendations on hosting safer celebrations and ceremonies

Don’t hand out candy if you’re feeling unwell

Use hand sanitizer frequently

Don’t decorate with props (such as smoke machines) that could cause people to cough

Encourage your children to take turns visiting porches to reduce crowds

Don’t share snacks, drinks or vapes