Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is closely monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases reported in First Nations communities across the country. Case counts continue to decline, with 860 active cases reported as of March 30, 2021, which is the lowest number of active cases reported since last November.
Even after being vaccinated, everyone must continue to follow public health measures, including minimizing in-person interactions with people from outside your immediate household, avoiding closed spaces and crowded places, wearing a mask, and washing your hands frequently.
In First Nations communities, as of March 30, ISC is aware of:
- 24,768 confirmed positive COVID-19
- 860 active cases
- 23,625 recovered cases
- 283 deaths
There are currently no active cases in Nunavik, Quebec. As of March 30 the Government of Nunavut is also reporting no active cases of COVID-19.
As of March 25, 2021, more than 6.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed across the country. As of March 30, 246, 675 vaccine doses have been administered in 612 communities. This represents over 50 per cent of adults living on First Nations Reserve, in Inuit Nunangat and the Territories who have received at least one dose, at a rate over 4 times that of the overall Canadian adult population. As well, over 70 per cent of the adult population have been vaccinated in the Territories, based on the 2017 census.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has been providing vital assistance to Indigenous communities across Canada, to minimize the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of Operation LASER – which is the CAF response to the worldwide pandemic – this week, the CAF completed its deployment to the community of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, Manitoba. Approximately 40 CAF members were deployed to assist ISC in their response to the COVID-19 situation in the community from March 10 to 29. CAF soldiers, medical specialists and support personnel worked alongside community members and partner organizations to help residents overcome a COVID-19 resurgence in the community.
As part of Operation VECTOR – which is the CAF support to the Federal, Provincial, and Territorial governments for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines – the CAF continues to assist provincial vaccination authorities with tasks associated with vaccine administration in more than 25 communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation in Northern Ontario. This week CAF will be assisting two communities with the second dose, Pikangikum First Nation and Sandy Lake First Nation. The province of Manitoba is beginning mass vaccination efforts in the northern region of the province. ISC continues to work closely with Public Safety and CAF along with First Nations partners and other service providers to expand on and accelerate the vaccine roll-out in the province.
Pimicikamak, also known as Cross Lake, and Peguis First Nation began their COVID-19 vaccination effort on March 22, 2021. Approximately 600 vaccines were administered among citizens in Pimicikamak Cree Nation, and about 400 doses were given to residents in Peguis First Nation. According to data collected by Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. (KIM) uptake for the vaccination has been going well. As of March 25, Manitoba First Nations Pandemic Response Coordination Team reported that 4,855 First Nations people received one single dose while 5,452 First Nations people received 2 doses. Starting March 29, the CAF began the vaccination efforts in Mathias Colomb (Pukatawagan) and Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation communities, in Manitoba.
In Nova Scotia, the province announced that any Nova Scotian who wants a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to get their first shot by the end of June. Phase one of the province’s vaccination plan, which included First Nations people, is already 50 per cent complete and on track to be complete by the end of April.
In Alberta, the Métis Nation of Alberta launched the first Métis-led vaccine clinic in Canada in Edmonton this week, in collaboration with the provincial government.
In addition, last week, ISC and the province of Saskatchewan signed a COVID-19 vaccination program provider agreement to help accelerate vaccine roll-out in First Nations communities in the province.
In British Columbia, by the end of this week, we expect that all First Nations 18+ living on reserve will have been offered at least one dose of the vaccine. A number of second doses have also been administered.
In Quebec, all First Nations communities have started vaccination clinics, and four communities have started their second doses, with the rest to begin in the coming weeks. Vaccines are also continuing to roll out to urban Indigenous adults, and planning is underway to administer second doses to the homeless population who received their first doses in early 2021.