Stellat’en First Nation is located along the Yellowed Highway west of Prince George. (Google maps image)

Stellat’en First Nation is located along the Yellowed Highway west of Prince George. (Google maps image)

Drones to deliver medical supplies to northern B.C. First Nation in pilot project

UBC teams up with Stellat’en First Nation

Drones will take to the sky delivering medical supplies to the Stellat’en First Nation after a team from UBC’s Faculty of Medicine has partnered on a pilot project with the remote Indigenous community more than 100 kilometres west of Prince George.

Chief Robert Michell believes drone technology could reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 while enhancing access to essential supplies. Lockdowns in First Nation communities have exacerbated inequitable access to health care supplies and services such as testing.

Michell said people belonging to one household all had to self-isolate, resulting in an outside member having to retrieve medications for them.

Read More: B.C. ramping up screening for faster-spreading COVID-19 ‘variants of concern’

The province’s health officer has cautioned that the more people you see and the more places you go, the higher the risk to you and those around you.

An unmanned drone carrying supplies will make the six-kilometre trip between Fraser Lake and the Stellat’en First Nation twice daily, five days a week over the next year.

“As we got into this pandemic, it became obvious that creating access for remote communities has become more important, and trying to get supplies in and out of those communities beyond the historical ways of driving in, driving out, or flying in or flying out,” said Dr. John Pawlovich, one of the project’s leaders.

The UBC Faculty of Medicine received a $750,000 grant from the TD Ready Challenge.

Read More: ‘Sky is the limit:’ Pilot project using drones to send medical supplies, COVID tests

Michell believes drone technology could provide limitless opportunities for his on-reserve community of approximately 250 members and get Stellat’en young adults interested in completing the drone pilot program.

He recalled a drowning within the nearby river system, inaccessible by boat.

“If we had drone technology, we could have listed it off fairly quickly and scan the river system to see where he went in and where he was,” Michell said.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

droneFirst Nationsnorthernbc

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The 5th Street Bridge requires structural improvements, new coating to repair and prevent corrosion, and deck repairs. File photo
City of Courtenay awards contract for 5th Street Bridge project

The City of Courtenay has awarded the contract for the rehabilitation of… Continue reading

Pumpjacks pump crude oil near Halkirk, Alta., June 20, 2007.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Gas prices jump in the Valley – and experts predict prices to rise even more

“We still could be talking about record prices…”

NIC Practical Nursing instructor Barb McPherson (right) is pictured with student Rebecca Wood in 2018 in NIC’s SIM lab. NIC photo
Learn about Practical Nursing opportunities for Island students

Students interested in exploring a future in health care are invited to… Continue reading

The Comox Valley Cycling Coalition is hoping to see more bike lines in the Cumberland area. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cycling coalition wants better bike links for Cumberland

Group says members want more connections with Comox Valley

The Courtenay Legion has identified 16 homeless veterans living in the Comox Valley. File photo
Courtenay Legion unites with Qualicum to help homeless veterans

Last year’s Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless count conducted in the Comox Valley identified… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Most Read