Joyce Cooper (left) said she had to set an example for Tsilhqot’in communities by sharing her COVID-19 positive results. (Photo submitted)

Joyce Cooper (left) said she had to set an example for Tsilhqot’in communities by sharing her COVID-19 positive results. (Photo submitted)

Tsideldel off-reserve member documents experience of COVID-19

We should all be supporting one another and not judging each other, says Joyce Cooper

The first thing Williams Lake resident Joyce Cooper thought of when she received her positive COVID-19 test results was her grandmother, who was gripped with fear and uncertainty as the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 circulated, ultimately killing her great-grandmother.

“She used to get so emotional when she talked about it and it brought me back to how she probably felt,” Cooper said of her late grandmother from her home in Williams Lake.

“She was always really cautious and always told us to make sure we’re safe.”

Despite Cooper and her family fully-practicing COVID-19 safety measures since the novel coronavirus was declared a pandemic, she still contracted the disease.

The off-reserve Tsideldel First Nation member and residential school survivor tested positive earlier this month as did her son and common-law partner with whom she shares her Williams Lake residence.

Read More: 95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

It took only a couple of days for Cooper’s symptoms to worsen after feeling unwell.

“We’re still not sure where it came from,” she said. “I was only in two places the day that they think I got it, so it could have been anywhere.”

As Cooper began to experience what she described as pneumonia-like symptoms, she decided to get tested at Cariboo Memorial Hospital for COVID-19.

She did not learn of her results until 48 hours later, when she had received a phone call.

“I was shocked because I thought we’ve been doing everything we can to be safe,” Cooper said.

While Cooper has had limited contact with other family members, including her daughters and grandchildren, they also got tested as a precaution and were negative.

Throughout her ordeal, Cooper has documented it on Facebook as an opportunity to showcase others what it is like and to be safe because you never know.

Read More: Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

“We practiced all the precautions, and I still got it,” she said.

“We have a lot of elders in our communities, and that’s who I worry about and knowing if I can get this, I can’t imagine what our elders would go through.”

Cooper said although both her son and common-law partner had fairly mild symptoms, she had taken the brunt and experienced “full-out” body aches and headaches that left her unable to get out of bed for four days.

Today, she remains indoors at home despite receiving the green-light from health care providers she no longer has to isolate.

“I don’t feel well enough to go anywhere, and I think I’ll give it time before I go visit my girls,” Cooper said.

She remains thankful to her common-law partner, who cooked meals for her, her son-in-law Bryan Adolph who delivered food, and one of her sisters, who offered some traditional medicine Cooper could use to help boost her immune system.

Cooper said she also was contacted by her nation and asked if she needed supplies.

Praising Tsideldel Chief and Council as well as essential and frontline workers for their countless efforts, Cooper went on to encourage anyone needing assistance to reach out and for everyone do what they can to support one another.

Read More: WLFN chief reports 11 members fully recovered from COVID-19

She agreed there is a lot of stigma surrounding the virus.

“It’s all fear-based,” she said, noting there are many who judge.

“It depends on who you are in the community, and I felt that by coming out and saying you know what I have it, we should all be supporting one another and not judging each other.”

As she slowly regains her strength, she looks forward to helping others who are self-isolating and may need food or traditional medicine.

Cooper said she had recently felt strong enough to make some traditional medicine with juniper and balsam, which she left outside her door for other families.

“It doesn’t have to be big things,” she said. “It can be small things.”


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

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusFirst Nations

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

Just Posted

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The school is very proud of these students (pictured, left to right): Halim Demir (holding Grace Valdez’ gold certificate); Lauren McIlwain, Shayleen Mack, Jaymen Schieck, Kyle Doiron, and Finn Carlson (photo submitted)
SAMS students excel in international competition

The SAMS team swept their category this year; all six participants received awards

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

The avalanche came down on the highway sometime Sunday evening (Feb. 21) (Dawson photo)
Road to Bella Coola wharf reopens after large avalanche

The road was closed after a large avalanche covered a significant portion of the highway

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

The south coast of B.C. as capture by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. (European Space Agency)
VIDEO: Images of B.C.’s south coast from space released by European Space Agency

The satellite images focus on a variety of the region’s landmarks

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Books affected include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer

FILE – Oshawa Generals forward Anthony Cirelli, left, shoots and scores his team’s first goal against Kelowna Rockets goalie Jackson Whistle during second period action at the Memorial Cup final in Quebec City on Sunday, May 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
B.C. government approves plan in principle to allow WHL to resume in the province

League includes Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants, Victoria Royals

The fundraising effort to purchase 40 hectares west of Cottonwood Lake announced its success this week. Photo: Submitted
Nelson society raises $400K to save regional park from logging project

The Nelson community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

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

AstraZeneca’s vaccine ready for use at the vaccination centre in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Reichel/dpa via AP
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on seniors

NACI panel said vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are preferred for seniors ‘due to suggested superior efficacy’

A public health order has extended the types of health care professionals who can give the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
‘It’s great that midwives are included’ in rollout of B.C.’s COVID vaccine plan, says college

The order will help the province staff the mass vaccination clinics planned for April

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canadian economy contracted 5.4 per cent in 2020, worst year on record

Drop was largely due to shutdowns in the spring as COVID began to spread

Most Read