June 10, 2021 — Ottawa, Traditional unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

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.

As of June 7, 2021, vaccination has reached an important milestone, with more than 30,042,916 COVID-19 vaccine doses being distributed across the country.

Based on Statistics Canada’s 2020 population projections, as of June 8, 2021, over 80% of individuals aged 18 and older in First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Over 72% of individuals aged 12 and older in First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Of this group, 41% have received their second dose.

Indigenous leadership, including the guidance offered by Elders and Knowledge Keepers, have been central in promoting vaccine confidence, encouraging communities to get vaccinated and ensuring people have the information and resources needed to stay healthy and combat COVID-19. In most provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples aged 12 and older are currently eligible to register for their first vaccine dose.

As of June 8, 540,581 vaccine doses have been administered in individuals aged 12 and older in 687 First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities. Different approaches are being implemented across Canada, including home-based, school-based, family-based and drive-thru clinics to reach households and support uptake. Many provinces and territories are prioritizing first doses to the population aged 12 and older.

Despite many challenges throughout the pandemic, it is important to recognize the resilience and hard work of Indigenous communities in Canada. While the vaccine results are encouraging, Indigenous communities are making decisions based on ensuring the health and well-being of their community, recognizing the need for continued vigilance as outbreaks continue to occur. At an individual level, it remains essential to keep our loved ones, our communities and ourselves safe. This includes minimizing in-person interactions with people outside our immediate household, avoiding gatherings, wearing a mask and washing our hands frequently.

As of June 9, 2021, the following COVID-19 data have been confirmed:

  • 30,568 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases
  • 761 active cases
  • 29,455 recovered cases
  • 348 deaths.

The Government of Nunavut also provided reports on June 9, 2021, confirming one active case of COVID-19 in Iqaluit.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) continue to assist Indigenous communities across the country.

As part of Operation VECTOR, which is the CAF’s support to the federal, provincial and territorial governments in distributing COVID-19 vaccines, Canadian Rangers and additional CAF personnel are assisting provincial vaccination authorities with logistics and general duty tasks in various communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation in Northern Ontario. This is in response to a request for assistance to support the Government of Ontario and ORNGE partners with the delivery of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to community members aged 12 to 17.

As part of Operation LASER, which is the response to a worldwide pandemic situation, Canadian Rangers are currently activated in Attawapiskat First Nation, Fort Albany First Nation, Kashechewan First Nation and Long Lake 58 First Nation in Ontario to provide assistance with COVID-19 response efforts in these communities

ISC is aware of and is closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreaks in communities along the James Bay Coast. ISC is participating in regular calls with the leadership of each community, the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA), the Ontario Provincial Emergency Operations Centre and other partners to ensure immediate measures are taken to reduce the chances of further spread; identify additional supplies, resources and supports the communities may need to help protect residents; and ensure health protocols can be undertaken effectively.  

ISC has taken steps to ensure that each community has adequate supplies of personal protective equipment for use by community health care providers. COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and case management is a collaborative effort between the individual First Nations, ISC, WAHA and the Porcupine Health Unit. Together, health partners are working to ensure that adequate health human resources are in the community and isolation space is available to support the communities’ needs. ISC has provided funding to support the isolation strategies and repurpose space as needed in communities. To further support the isolation space needs of these communities, ISC approved a funding request from Mushkegowuk Council for a total of $4,389,158.

Since March 2020, ISC has allocated over $5.2 million to Fort Albany First Nation, over $5.9 million to Attawapiskat First Nation and over $8 million to Kashechewan First Nation to support community COVID-19 response efforts. 

ORNGE’s Operation Remote Immunity 2.0 launched on May 31, 2021, to vaccinate approximately 6,000 youths aged 12 to 17 in 31 Ontario fly-in First Nations communities and Moosonee. ORNGE supported clinics in Kashechewan and Attawapiskat this week, which were jointly organized by Weeneebayko Area Health Authority and the individual communities.

Canada recognizes that First Nations and Inuit are among the most at risk during the pandemic, in particular, those in remote and fly-in communities are uniquely at risk. Additional support is currently available through the Indigenous Community Support Fund. This fund helps Indigenous communities and organizations prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19, and address specific needs identified by communities and their members. First Nations, Inuit and Métis also have access to all other measures provided through the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. This includes measures such as the recent proposed extension of the Canada Recovery Benefit and of the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit. 

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Author: Editor
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