Government of Canada is providing assistance to urban Indigenous organizations in Northern Ontario to address the COVID-19 pandemic 

News release

October 2, 2020 — Ottawa, Ontario, Traditional territory of the Algonquin Peoples – Indigenous Services Canada

Since the beginning of the pandemic, action has been taken at all levels to protect the most vulnerable and support those who need it most. Collective measures have been taken by women's groups, homeless shelters, and mental health organizations, and assistance with food delivery has been organized by community-based organizations across this country. This work and their leadership has been making a fundamental difference.

Today, on behalf of the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay – Superior North and Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay – Rainy River, announced the 34 Indigenous organizations in Northern Ontario who received approximately $3.6 million in funding through the Indigenous Community Support Fund's off-reserve and urban stream to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.   

The funding will aid with food security, mental health support services, homelessness, and required emergency supplies to ensure the health and safety of Indigenous Peoples.

The Ontario Native Women's Association received $1.8 million in funding to provide a coordinated safety response to the community in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. A portion of the funding was allocated for a centralized intake office that supports community members by ensuring that those calling in for services are not placed on a waiting list. As well, they established a series of GoBAGS, a drop off and pick up delivery service, to support those who need it. Those bags can include a variety of products, including cleaning kits, or PPE that support health and wellness needs for individuals and families. To date, the Ontario Native Women's Association has provided more than 15,000 immediate service supports throughout Northern Ontario. They continue to focus on building relationships and provide community supports to community partner organizations.

Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services received $17,595 in funding to help address mental health and addictions needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.  With this critical funding, they were able to provide calling cards to 35 individuals to access virtual health care services, and approximately 100 taxi vouchers for those needing to attend medical appointments, counselling sessions, crisis services, grocery shopping and medication. As well, 300 Indigenous children are set to receive children's books, art supplies and mental wellness resources to support families during the pandemic. The organization also prepared 250 care packages filled with diapers, bottled water, soap, cloths, wipes and other personal toiletries for those in need and struggling financially or unable to purchase these items during these difficult times.

As part of the Indigenous Community Support Fund, the Government of Canada is distributing a total of $90 million to Indigenous organizations and communities providing services to Indigenous Peoples living in urban areas and First Nations living off-reserve, to support essential services to the most vulnerable and to prevent and respond to potential COVID-19 outbreaks.
On August 12, the Government of Canada announced an additional $305 million for the Indigenous Community Support Fund. This most recent announcement brings the Indigenous Community Support Fund to $685 million in total funding. It will be distributed through a combination of allocations directly to First Nations, Inuit and Métis leadership, and needs-based funding, which will be application driven and extend to Indigenous communities and organizations serving First Nations living off-reserve and Indigenous Peoples living in urban centres.
The organizations within Northern Ontario are among approximately 260 Indigenous organizations supported to date by the Indigenous Community Support Fund to help address the critical needs of Indigenous Peoples living in urban centers and First Nations living off-reserve across the country impacted by the pandemic. 


"Today's announcement is an opportunity to highlight the tremendous work of Indigenous organizations in Northern Ontario who have been working tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of Indigenous Peoples throughout this crisis. Your dedication has helped Indigenous men, women and children living in Northern Ontario's urban areas access the much needed supports and services to prevent further COVID–19 outbreaks."

Pam Damoff
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services and Member of Parliament for Oakville North—Burlington 

"As COVID-19 continues to affect our country, I am deeply grateful to Indigenous organizations that are working tirelessly to help Indigenous people and communities stay safe. Today's announcement ensures these organizations continue to have the capacity to address the COVID-19 public health emergency."
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay – Superior North 

"I am impressed by the many services these Indigenous organization in Northern Ontario are providing to Indigenous families. With the investments provided in today's announcement, these organizations will undoubtedly be able help many more families struggling during these difficult times."
Marcus Powlowski
Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay – Rainy River 

"The Ontario Native Women's Association (ONWA) would like to thank Indigenous Services Canada for their contribution to ONWA's community safety response proposal addressing the safety of Indigenous women. This must remain a priority for future investments as Indigenous women continue to experience disproportionately high rates of gender-based violence that continues to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Cora McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director
Ontario Native Women's Association 

"Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services (FFTAHS) is thankful to be able to provide additional support beyond our regular resources to address concerns related to Mental Health and Addictions during these challenging times of COVID-19. FFTAHS strives to provide high quality holistic services to community members of our 10 First Nations communities in Southern Treaty Three. With COVID-19 we have had to navigate waters that really challenged the way we typically provide services to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff, clients and community at large. With the funding we were able to address some of these challenges and barriers to accessing Mental Health and Addictions services."

Kayla Caul-Chartier, Chief Executive Officer
Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services 

Quick facts

  • This support is part of over $2 billion that has been committed in specific support to Indigenous and northern communities and organizations in response to the COVID 19 pandemic. 

  • Project funding for the Indigenous Community Support Fund – urban and off-reserve stream was selected through a national Call for Proposals process. 

  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis also have access to other support measures available to Canadian individuals, businesses and industries, through the Government of Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Adrienne Vaupshas
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

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