June 21, 2020 Ottawa, ON Public Health Agency of Canada
In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement today:
“As of the end of the day on Saturday, June 20, there were 101,019 confirmed cases including 8,410 deaths and 63,488 or 63% have now recovered. Labs across Canada have tested over 2,382,781 people for COVID-19 to date. Over the past week, we have been testing an average of 36,000 people daily, with just over 1% testing positive. These numbers change quickly and are updated daily in the evenings on www.Canada.ca/coronavirus.
Today is Father’s Day. I would like to thank our fathers, stepfathers, uncles and grandfathers for all that they do. The best way to celebrate is by protecting each other, following the advice of local public health officials and celebrating Together Apart to keep everyone safe!
Today, we also honour National Indigenous Peoples Day to celebrate the culture, heritage and valuable contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Celebrated in Canada every June 21st, National Indigenous Peoples Day is the same day as the summer solstice – the longest day of the year – and was chosen for its important symbolism to many Indigenous Peoples.
In the past, on this day, we’ve had large gatherings of Indigenous Peoples that honour the past, renew friendships, and celebrate life through music, song, food, dance and storytelling. We recognize that there are cultural and sacred ceremonies that have taken place and that are planned in the coming weeks and months. These events are critical to the governance and resiliency of Indigenous Peoples.
Guidance is available on how events can be adapted to protect those involved from the risks of COVID-19. We encourage leaders, ceremonial Elders and organizers to contact their local Medical Officer of Health or public health authority for any support they may require.
With online platforms becoming more prevalent in our social lives, there are now more and more ways to connect with friends, family members and communities across the country to celebrate this important day, virtually!
On National Indigenous Peoples Day, I also want to take the opportunity to acknowledge the impacts of colonisation, racism and the ongoing trauma that have put many Indigenous people at risk of negative health outcomes. As well, our history in Canada has sometimes created inadequate living conditions, barriers to accessing quality care, and limited access to healthy food options. These are challenges that have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, and, going forward, we must do better to eradicate these disparities. Given the long and rich history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, demonstrating their resilience in the face of adversity, there is much to learn from Indigenous leaders and community members on adapting to challenging circumstances as Indigenous Peoples come together while remaining safely apart!