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

News release

April 23, 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.

As vaccine efforts ramp up, the curve of infections is trending down overall. Since the first doses of the vaccine were administered in First Nations communities over three months ago, there has been a more than 80% reduction in the number of active cases.

In First Nations communities, as of April 22, ISC is aware of:

  • 26,539 confirmed positive COVID-19
  • 719 active cases
  • 25,514 recovered cases
  • 306 deaths

There is one active cases in Nunavik, Quebec. As of April 22, the Government of Nunavut is reporting 36 active cases of COVID-19 in Iqaluit and Kinngait.

As of April 21, 2021, more than 13.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed across the country. As of April 23, 346,108 vaccine doses have been administered in 651 First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities. Based on Statistics Canada's 2020 population projections, over 57% of adults in First Nations communities, as well as over 70% of adults living in the territories, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

There are many examples of success across the country as vaccines continue to be rolled out. In Quebec, all First Nations communities have started mass vaccination. Most have administered all the doses they have received and are planning for second doses. In Atlantic Canada, all First Nations and Inuit communities have hosted their first dose immunization clinic, and most have or will soon have completed their second dose clinics by the end of April for those who are eligible. The territories also continue to lead the way in demonstrating leadership, which has led to the high levels of success in their vaccine campaigns.

Urban vaccine planning continues to be a priority across the country. In Montréal, Indigenous vaccination clinics opened this week, and they will be open to all Indigenous Peoples aged 18 and older. New COVID-19 vaccination clinics also opened in Toronto last week, with appointments available to eligible populations, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit adults.  

Even with the increasing availability of vaccines, there is a continued need to follow public health measures, including minimizing in-person interactions with people outside your immediate household, avoiding crowded places, wearing a mask, and washing your hands frequently. These public health measures remain imperative, even after being vaccinated.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of Operation LASER—the Canadian Armed Forces' (CAF) response to the global pandemic—the CAF has provided support to the numerous First Nation communities across Canada. As a result of the vital medical support provided by the CAF, many COVID-19 outbreaks in communities were controlled.

As part of Operation VECTOR—the CAF's support to the federal, provincial and territorial governments for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines—the CAF assisted provincial vaccination authorities tasked with vaccine administration in more than 25 communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation in Northern Ontario. Last week, the CAF assisted Sachigo Lake First Nation, this week the CAF is assisting Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation and next week it will support Wunnumin First nation.

The CAF also continues to assist vaccination teams with the accelerated pace of immunization in a number of on-reserve Indigenous communities in Northern Manitoba. The CAF has provided support to nine communities. This week, it will assist with vaccination clinics and community outreach in two communities: O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation (CAF support started today, April 21, and so far approximately 80 vaccines have been administered by community healthcare professionals) and Northlands Denesuline First Nation (CAF support started today, April 21, and so far approximately 215 vaccines have been administered by community healthcare professionals).

Budget 2021 proposes to provide an additional $1.2 billion in 2021–22 to continue supporting the COVID-19 response in Indigenous communities as follows: $478.1 million on a cash basis to support the ongoing public health response to COVID-19 in Indigenous communities, including support to hire nurses, help at-risk people isolate and distribute personal protective equipment, as well as an additional $760.8 million for the Indigenous Community Support Fund to help First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities, and urban and off-reserve Indigenous organizations that serve Indigenous Peoples meet the unique needs of their populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will help prevent the spread of COVID-19, support elders and vulnerable community members, provide mental health assistance and emergency response services, address food insecurity, and support children.

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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