Government of Canada COVID-19 Update for Indigenous Peoples and communities 

News release

October 22, 2020 — Ottawa, Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities continues to grow. As had been reported by October 21, the weeks of October 4-10 and October 11-17 have seen weekly increases in the number of new cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities, with 160 new cases reported each week. This continuous increase in case reports has been linked to large private and public gatherings held in settings where physical distancing and wearing of masks were not observed.

As of October 21, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is aware of these confirmed cases of COVID-19 for First Nations communities on reserve:
  • 1100 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19
  • 15 deaths
  • 322 active cases
  • 72 hospitalizations
  • 763 recovered cases
There are a total of 25 confirmed positive cases in Nunavik, Quebec, and five remain active.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities were successful in preventing, preparing for and responding to the spread of COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic. Everyone must remain vigilant and continue to follow the measures that save lives. Individuals should continue to be careful and listen to the advice of public health experts. The more cases there are in the community, the greater the opportunity for the virus to be introduced into workplaces, schools and vulnerable settings like long-term care centres.

People must continue to:
  • Properly wear a mask or face covering when in public or around those at risk, especially when it is hard to maintain a physical distance.
  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly. 
  • Limit contact to the same small circle of people and practice physical distancing with those outside of the household.
  • Create a supportive environment for people who are isolating to take care of their mental health and minimize the stress and hardship associated with isolation.
Physical distancing can be especially challenging depending on personal circumstances and responsibilities. Individuals should not let their guard down when in public, even if you see someone you know. Everyone brings with them a network of people that they have encountered. Reducing contact with people outside of your household makes a difference in limiting the spread.

Moreover, everyone should familiarize themselves with the recommended public health guidelines outlined by their province or territory of residence, and/or by their community leadership. They are also encouraged to share the advice of public health experts, such as from the Public Health Agency of Canada, so that their friends and families are also well informed.   

ISC recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant effect on the mental wellness of everyone. Mental wellness services that support Indigenous communities are essential. These services continue to respect public health measures with many shifting to telehealth or virtual approaches and being innovative in terms of service delivery.

The Hope for Wellness Help Line provides immediate, culturally safe, telephone crisis intervention, 24 hours a day, seven days a week in English and French, and upon request in Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut.
ISC continues to work in partnership with Indigenous organizations and communities to support the adaptation and evolution of Indigenous-led mental wellness resources and services, during the pandemic and beyond.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Vanessa Adams
Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services 

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

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