April 16, 2021 — Ottawa, Traditional unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada
Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is closely monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases reported in First Nations communities across the country. Overall, active case counts have remained relatively stable over the past week, with 643 active cases reported as of April 15, 2021.
In First Nations communities, as of April 15, ISC is aware of
- 25,923 confirmed positive COVID-19
- 643 active cases
- 24,978 recovered cases
- 302 deaths.
There are currently no active cases in Nunavik, Quebec. As of April 16, the Government of Nunavut is reporting 13 active cases of COVID-19 in Iqaluit.
As of April 14, 2021, more than 12.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed across the country. As of April 15, 297,461 vaccine doses have been administered in 613 communities. Over 60% of adults in First Nations communities, Inuit Nunangat and the territories, as well as over 75% of adults living in the territories, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, based on the 2016 Census population.
A number of First Nations communities across the country are taking a strong leadership role to help promote vaccine confidence and provide information on public health initiatives to keep their communities safe. For example, the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation recently launched the “Your Health, Our Strength” campaign to continue to encourage vaccine uptake. The goal of the campaign is to provide trusted information about vaccination and vaccines, allowing Indigenous Peoples to make informed decisions. The campaign includes videos from trusted voices, including Alexis Nakota Sioux Elders, Howard Mustus and Rod and Doreen Alexis; Dr. Alika LaFontaine, First Indigenous President Elect of the Canadian Medical Association; and Dr. Evan Adams, Deputy Medical Officer of Public Health, Indigenous Services Canada. This campaign is supported by Indigenous Services Canada. Previously, the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation created and managed the successful “#ProtectOurElders” COVID-19 outreach campaign. Over a nine-month period, this campaign yielded over 16 million views of its content.
Urban vaccine planning continues to be a priority across the country as well. A number of provinces are offering vaccines to all First Nations, Inuit and Métis adults regardless of where they live, and are acknowledging the importance of culturally safe vaccine spaces, either incorporated into provincial sites or as stand-alone sites. For example, a number of Friendship Centres across the country are hosting clinics in their facilities.
Even with the increasing availability of vaccines, everyone must continue to follow public health measures, including minimizing in-person interactions with people from outside their immediate household, avoiding closed spaces and crowded places, wearing a mask, and washing their hands frequently. These public health measures remain imperative even after being vaccinated.
Indigenous Services Canada continues to work closely with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and First Nations in Manitoba to accelerate the pace of immunization in communities under Operation VECTOR. This week, the CAF began supporting vaccine distribution in Little Grand Rapids First Nation, God’s Lake First Nation, Manto Sipi First Nation and Berens River First Nation. Next week the CAF will potentially—depending on weather in Northern Manitoba—assist three communities: Barren Lands First Nation, O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree First Nation and Northlands First Nation.