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

News release

November 20, 2020 — Ottawa, Traditional unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

The week of November 8-14 continued to see an alarming increase in the number of newly reported cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities related to the second wave of the pandemic, with 558 new cases reported as of November 19.

As of November 19, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is aware of these confirmed cases of COVID-19 for provincial First Nations communities on reserve:

  • 2853 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19
  • 1174 active cases
  • 1654 recovered cases
  • 23 deaths

There are a total of 29 confirmed positive cases in Nunavik, Quebec, and all but one have recovered.

The majority of the increases continue to be linked to private and public gatherings in settings where physical distancing and wearing of masks were not observed. Gatherings with individuals outside of your household without physical distancing carries a risk of infection and can lead to serious illness, endangering the lives of loved ones. The virus can spread very quickly especially where multiple households in a community are in close contact.

While ISC remains steadfast in our support of Indigenous leaders and communities, including supporting Indigenous service delivery organizations in urban areas, collaborative action among Indigenous partners including provincial and territorial governments is critical to comprehensively responding to current outbreaks of COVID-19. In light of the outbreak and current lockdown in Nunavut, for example, ISC is in close communication with the territorial government regarding requests for assistance to respond to the current COVID-19 outbreak. As reported by the Government of Nunavut, as of November 20, there are 84 confirmed positive cases in Nunavut, with the majority of cases being in the Arviat region.

ISC is also paying close attention to the current outbreaks in the prairie provinces and has been in close communication with community leadership in the provinces. In Manitoba, ISC officials are actively working with leadership from Opaskwayak Cree Nation to respond to the current troubling outbreak at the Rod McGillivray Personal Care Home. In light of this outbreak, the Government of Canada is providing $2.3 million in immediate funding to support the community's response to the pandemic and to ensure necessary resources are in place at the personal care home to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19. On November 10, 2020 the Government of Canada, in partnership with First Nations in Manitoba, announced $61.4 million in immediate funding to support community-led response to the pandemic in a number of areas. Immediate support will be provided for public health activities, measures in personal care homes, targeted assistance for communities with multiple COVID-19 cases, and community adaptation funding.

Additionally, In light of the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Government of Canada is also providing $120.37 million in immediate funding to support the response to the pandemic in Indigenous communities and organizations in Alberta and Saskatchewan. This funding will support Indigenous communities and organizations in their on the ground efforts to put in place measures and address increasing needs, including support for vulnerable populations, support for long-term care homes, deploying additional staff in communities with outbreaks, strengthening mental health services and additional isolation and screening spaces where needed.

The Government of Canada would like to recognize and thank the frontline workers who put their own safety on the line every day to make sure families, youth, and especially Elders are kept safe. Without their dedication and hard work, the number of people who tested positive for the virus would have been even greater.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, the risk of spread increases, We urge all community members to support their leadership and follow public health measures that have proven to save lives. The more cases there are in a community, the greater the opportunity for the virus to be introduced into workplaces, schools and at risk settings, like long-term care centres.

As a reminder, applications are now open for needs-based funding through the Indigenous Community Support Fund. Funding is available for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities as well as Indigenous organizations serving Indigenous people in urban centres & off reserves.

We urge everyone to help bend the curve by making wise decisions and following recommended public health measures.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux
Communications Director
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

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