Government of Canada to provide support to First Nations communities in Manitoba to accelerate the vaccination campaign

News release

March 24, 2021 — Ottawa, Traditional unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada / National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

The Government of Canada is committed to supporting First Nations, Inuit and Métis in the fight against COVID-19, and to partnering with other federal departments to provide support as needed.

A number of communities in northern Manitoba in particular have been severely impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks. In addition to the public health measures, including minimizing in-person interactions with people, wearing a mask, and washing your hands frequently, we encourage everyone that can to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

To support First Nations in Manitoba, the Government of Canada will provide additional support from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to accelerate the pace of immunization in communities under Operation VECTOR. Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and the CAF, in partnership with First Nations, will support First Nations leaders in their plans to vaccinate all adults in up to 23 on-reserve communities, which would represent a vaccination goal of about 50,000 people. Overall, Manitoba First Nations leaders are planning for all 63 First Nations communities, with a goal of reaching 100,000 people in 100 days.

Initial communities identified for support include Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (Nelson House), Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (Pukatawagan), Garden Hill First Nation (Island Lake), Bunibonibee Cree Nation (Oxford House), and Barren Lands First Nation (Brochet). Planning is currently underway for Norway House Cree Nation, God's Lake Narrows First Nations, Berens River First Nation, Little Grand Rapids First Nation, O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation, Northlands Denesuline First Nation, Manoto Sipi Cree Nation, and Sayisi Dene First Nation.

Additionally a planning team was deployed to Thompson, Manitoba last week to conduct a detailed reconnaissance and asses the needs for CAF support. CAF members will start arriving in Thompson on March 25th to set up a staging hub, and will be ready to begin operations on March 29, 2021.

The CAF's support in Northern Manitoba is under the auspices of Operation VECTOR, which is the Canadian military's support to the Federal, Provincial, and Territorial governments for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. To support this effort, CAF will deploy one CC-130 Hercules aircraft, up to two CH-147 Chinook helicopters, up to two CC-138 Twin Otters, logistical vehicles, and approximately 200 CAF members. CAF personnel will meet the tailored needs of the supported communities and assist with tasks such as: providing medical assistance, the administration of COVID-19 vaccines; logistical support, including the establishment of COVID-19 vaccination clinics; assisting with transportation needs; and coordinating the delivery of goods and supplies. This mission is set to run until June 30, 2021.

The number of CAF personnel to be deployed will depend on the needs of the communities requiring assistance. The teams will leverage existing bilateral and multilateral engagement mechanisms, including the vaccine planning working group and trilateral engagement sessions. They will also highlight best practices and lessons learned to date from deployments to communities in northern Ontario and Manitoba.

The CAF was previously in 46 First Nations communities across the country to help manage COVID-19 outbreaks and to help facilitate vaccine distribution. In Manitoba specifically, the CAF have been in Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, Shamattawa First Nation, Pauingassi First Nation, Red Sucker Lake First Nation, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Garden Hill First Nation, and Cross Lake Band. These initial efforts have all resulted in managing the outbreaks of COVID-19 and have set the ground for the vaccination efforts.

ISC and the CAF will continue to work closely with First Nations to support this goal and to identify specific communities where support is wanted.


"A number of communities in Manitoba have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks. I am proud and grateful for the CAF members who are working shoulder to shoulder with us to provide support at a time when communities need it most. I look forward to seeing more vaccines being administered in Manitoba thanks to the help of the CAF."

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

"Members of the Canadian Armed Forces will be working with Indigenous Services Canada to help support up to 23 Indigenous communities in Manitoba. This is truly a team endeavor – led by Indigenous community leaders, and supported by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Indigenous Services Canada, the province of Manitoba, the Canadian Armed Forces, and other partners. Together, we will make sure that residents' needs are met, and that local leaders are well-supported in their efforts against COVID-19."

The Honourable Harjit Sajjan
Minister of National Defence

"From the beginning of the pandemic our government has worked together with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis partners to keep people safe. This included support from the Canadian Armed Forces in communities across the country to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. And the CAF will continue to provide assistance to Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba as they rollout their COVID-19 vaccination programs. I want to thank the members of the CAF, Indigenous Services Canada, Indigenous partners, and front-line staff for their hard work in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping communities safe."

The Honourable Daniel Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs

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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