Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is committed to supporting Indigenous communities in their response to COVID-19 and continues to work closely with Indigenous organizations and provincial and territorial governments. As of June 14, 2021, Canada reported an incredible accomplishment in its vaccination efforts, with more than 33,113,116 COVID-19 vaccine doses being distributed across the country. As of June 15, 2021, in First Nations communities with information available, over 82% of individuals aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and over 43% have received two doses.
Many provinces and territories continue to prioritize first doses to the population aged 12 and older with various approaches implemented across Canada, including home-based, school-based, family-based and drive-thru clinics to reach households and support uptake. As of June 15, 2021, over 75% of individuals aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities. Of this group, 46% have received their second dose. In provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples aged 12 and older are currently eligible to register for their first vaccine dose. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 70% of individuals aged 12 and older has received one dose.
We thank all those who have received their first dose of the vaccine, but remind everyone that it is important to get your second dose, especially in the context of mitigating the impact of the delta variant.
As of June 15, 2021, the following COVID-19 data have been confirmed:
- 31,163 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases
- 889 active cases
- 29,921 recovered cases
- 535 deaths.
The Government of Nunavut also provided reports on June 15, confirming 8 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 extending their assistance to provincial vaccination authorities by completing logistics and general duty tasks in various communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation in Northern Ontario to continue supporting 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.
ORNGE’s Operation Remote Immunity 2.0 launched on May 31, 2021, and aims to vaccinate approximately 6,000 youth aged 12 to 17 in 31 Ontario fly-in First Nations communities in Northern communities. This week, ORNGE-supported vaccine clinics are being held in North Cariboo and Sandy Lake.
As part of Operation LASER, which is the CAF’s 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 continues to work closely with the leadership of Kashechewan First Nation and other partners, including Mushkegowuk Tribal Council (MTC), Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA), the Nishnawbe Aski Police Service, the Canadian Red Cross, and other federal and provincial government departments to address the urgent health needs of the community in light of its recent COVID-19 outbreak.
On Sunday, June 13, representatives from ISC, the CAF, MTC and WAHA were on the ground in the community and met with Kashechewan leadership to identify the gaps and come up with solutions to address critical priorities identified by the community. This includes creating additional infrastructure required to help contain spread within the community; actively ensuring the health and mental health needs of the community are met; and meeting the needs of families, including relief supports, food and bottled water. ISC representatives remain in community to collaborate with partners on facilitating the coordination of supports.
Collaboration between ISC, the CAF and other partners is ongoing, and a coordinated approach to deliver these critical supports to the community is underway.
As of June 10, ISC has supported Indigenous-led capacity to screen, triage and isolate by funding more than 824 infrastructure initiatives, including funding the acquisition of more than 502 mobile structures; identifying more than 117 existing community spaces that can be upgraded or re-tooled to provide additional protections to clients and staff; and funding more than 111 smaller building repair, upgrade and small-site servicing projects to create safe and operational spaces.
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 members, 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 during an outbreak. This includes minimizing in-person interactions with people outside our immediate household, avoiding gatherings, wearing a mask and washing our hands frequently. Indigenous leadership, including the guidance offered by Elders and Knowledge Keepers, has been central in promoting vaccine confidence, encouraging community members to get vaccinated and ensuring people have the information and resources needed to stay healthy and combat COVID-19.
Vaccination awareness and education continues to be amplified to Indigenous youth across Canada on a grassroots level through collaborations such as the Indigenous Youth COVID-19 Vaccine Task Group, a grassroots approach to supporting vaccination awareness and education among Indigenous youth in Canada. This group includes 19 First Nations and Métis representatives from the Assembly of First Nations, Métis Nation of Alberta, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the National Association of Friendship Centres and the Government of Northwest Territories while broadening its participation to include Inuit youth.
ISC recognizes the major impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the lives of Canadians, as well as the increased need for mental wellness supports. ISC is committed to helping Indigenous communities access services and encourages individuals to reach out to local health and wellness service providers and seek guidance on how to manage stress, anxiety and loneliness, especially if your personal safety is at risk. All Indigenous Peoples can access the Hope for Wellness Help Line at www.hopeforwellness.ca or by calling1-855-242-3310.