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Government of Canada COVID-19 Update for Indigenous Peoples and communities

Government of Canada COVID-19 Update for Indigenous Peoples and communities

Canada NewsWire

OTTAWA, TRADITIONAL UNCEDED ALGONQUIN TERRITORY, ON, May 12, 2021 /CNW/ - Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is committed to supporting Indigenous communities in their response to COVID-19 and is working closely with Indigenous organizations and provincial and territorial governments.

From May 10 to 16, we celebrate National Nursing Week. Earlier this week, Minister of Indigenous Services, Marc Miller had the opportunity to thank all nurses working in First Nations and Inuit communities. These nurses have shown tremendous dedication to keeping First Nations and Inuit communities healthy and safe, especially while managing this pandemic. This year more than ever, Canadians across the country are celebrating all the nurses who have answered the call on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19. They have sacrificed so much for the health and well-being of Canadians, and we are grateful for their work to help get us through the pandemic.

While there are signs of hope as COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the country, we must also continue to follow public health measures to keep our loved ones, our communities and ourselves safe. This includes minimizing in-person interactions with people outside your immediate household, avoiding crowded places, wearing a mask, and washing your hands frequently.

In First Nations communities, as of May 11, ISC is aware of

  • 28,118 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases
  • 820 active cases
  • 26,972 recovered cases
  • 326 deaths.

There are no active cases in Nunavik, Quebec and 61 active cases in the Northwest Territories. As of May 11, the Government of Nunavut is reporting 75 active cases of COVID-19 in Iqaluit. Canada is committed to supporting Nunavut during these latest outbreaks. Yesterday, Minister Miller and the Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, announced that the Government of Canada is providing more than $19 million in additional and immediate support to the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated through a combination of new and expanded federal transfers, or in-kind spending.

As of May 11, more than 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed across the country, and 416,106 vaccine doses have been administered in 690 First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities. Based on Statistics Canada's 2020 population projections, over 65% of adults in First Nations communities, as well as over 68% of adults living in the territories, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Last week, Health Canada authorized the use of the Pfizer vaccine in those aged 12 to 15, following a U.S. study of over 2,000 adolescents. While approaches to vaccine prioritization and eligibility vary by province and territory, the Northwest Territories has already begun—and several have plans in place to begin—vaccinating this younger demographic. ISC and Indigenous partners, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, have also recently established a national task group on vaccine uptake for First Nations, Inuit and Métis youth—led by youth. The group aims to develop strategies to engage with Indigenous youth as part of the vaccine rollout process.

Across the country, vaccine rollout is well underway. Increased efforts are in place to enhance vaccine confidence to promote vaccine uptake in areas that may be experiencing hesitancy, a high number of cases and low vaccine coverage. In British Columbia, as of April 22, 50% of all status and status-eligible First Nations people aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Alberta is now in Phase 2D of its provincial vaccination rollout, opening up vaccination to all First Nations and Métis aged 35 and older, regardless of where they live. In Manitoba, more than a dozen second-dose clinics will be hosted in the coming weeks. In Quebec, at least 10 more communities have started administering second doses.

Many urban Indigenous vaccination clinics are also underway across the country and, as age eligibility continues to decrease, more Indigenous Peoples will have access to the vaccine. Phase 1 of the vaccination campaign for Indigenous populations in Montréal, Quebec is ongoing until May 14. In Alberta, more than 1,300 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were given to Métis at a clinic in Edmonton over four days in March. The clinic, which was run by the Métis Nation of Alberta, was the first of its kind to be led by a Métis government in Canada.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) continue to assist numerous Indigenous communities across the country. The CAF continues to assist vaccination teams with the accelerated pace of immunizations in a number of on-reserve First Nations communities in northern Manitoba. So far, the CAF has assisted 11 communities with the delivery of the first dose. Last week, the CAF started assisting with second-dose clinics in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. This week, the CAF will support second-dose clinics in Pauingassi First Nation and Little Grand Rapids First Nation.

In response to a request for assistance from the Province of Ontario, six Canadian Rangers were activated in the community of Lac Seul First Nation on May 4, 2021, to provide assistance in dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. The Rangers are working alongside First Nations partners to provide humanitarian assistance and address the immediate needs of this remote community.

Similarly, Canadian Rangers were activated in the Moose Cree First Nation in Ontario on May 10, 2021, to provide assistance with COVID-19 spread mitigation in the community. The Government of Canada will continue to support communities in whatever capacity is required and whenever they are needed. 

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SOURCE Indigenous Services Canada

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