Chiniki First Nation Chief Aaron Young is fighting COVID-19 and has gone public to encourage others to be proactive and help curb the spread.

In an open letter and video to the Chiniki and the entire Stoney Nakoda Nation, Chief Young says he resisted the urge to shut down and lie low, and instead reached out to the community.

"I intend to fight this virus head-on with all the strength that Creator gives me," he wrote. "I will be as open and as transparent as possible in my personal fight with this virus so my community can learn from my experience."

He says he realizes the need to be close and provide comfort to family and friends is important to the community, but right now it has to take a different form.

"We have to avoid close contact at all costs.," he says later in the letter. "I am COVID-19 positive because of close contacts that I've been exposed to while carrying out my duties as chief to the best of my ability."

He encouraged those feeling unwell to be tested and not to interact with the community. He asks those who test positive or have been in close contact with those who have to stay home and stay away from others in their home. 

On Jan. 11, the Stoney Nakoda Nation re-declared a state of emergency in its battle against COVID-19. Since December they've seen a rapid climb in the number of active cases that has accelerated in recent weeks. In their latest update, there were 153 active cases and, sadly four deaths from the virus.