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

News release

May 19, 2021 — Ottawa, Traditional unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is committed to supporting Indigenous communities in their response to COVID-19 and is working closely with Indigenous organizations, and provincial and territorial governments.

With warmer weather approaching and more people spending time outside, it remains essential that everyone follow public health measures to keep our loved ones, our communities and ourselves safe. This includes minimizing in-person interactions with people outside your immediate household, avoiding crowded places, wearing a mask and washing your hands frequently.

In First Nations communities, as of May 18, ISC is aware of

  • 28,710 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases
  • 864 active cases
  • 27,514 recovered cases
  • 332 deaths.

There are no active cases in Nunavik, Quebec and 17 active cases in the Northwest Territories. As of May 18, the Government of Nunavut is reporting 63 active cases of COVID-19 in Iqaluit and one in Kinngait.

As of May 18, 2021, more than 21.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed across the country. As of May 18, 452,043 vaccine doses have been administered in 687 First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities. Based on Statistics Canada’s 2020 population projections, over 62% of adults in First Nations communities, as well as over 69% of adults living in the territories, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Across the country, the vaccine roll-out is well underway. Increased efforts are in place to enhance vaccine confidence to promote the uptake of vaccines in areas that may be experiencing hesitancy, a high number of cases and low vaccine coverage. First Nations in Alberta continue to report high numbers of vaccinations in their communities and more urban clinics are being planned. Clinics targeted toward Indigenous Peoples living in urban areas have also been running in many parts of the country. In Ontario, Indigenous Peoples living in urban areas are now eligible to receive their second dose of the vaccine, including at clinics in Barrie and Orillia. In addition, in Alberta, anyone over the age of 12 who is Indigenous can now sign up for a vaccine dose at various locations, including, but not limited to, the Aboriginal Friendship Centre in Calgary.

Provinces and territories are making plans to vaccinate youth following Health Canada’s recent authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for those aged 12 to 15. New Brunswick has announced that First Nations individuals aged 12 to 15 with parental or guardian consent are currently eligible for the vaccine. Furthermore, Anishnawbe Health Toronto, an Indigenous health and wellness centre, began administering doses to eligible youth at a local school last week. To support youth vaccination, the Indigenous Youth COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake Working Group was established by ISC and Indigenous partners. The group is comprised of Indigenous youth from across the country and works collaboratively to provide advice to the Government of Canada and other organizations to increase vaccine uptake among First Nations, Inuit and Métis youth.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) continue to assist Indigenous communities across the country. The CAF is helping vaccination teams with the accelerated pace of immunizations in a number of on-reserve First Nations communities in northern Manitoba. So far, the CAF has assisted 11 communities with the delivery of the first dose. This week, the CAF is supporting second-dose clinics in Manto Sipi First Nation and Berens River First Nation.

In Ontario, six Canadian Rangers were activated in the community of Lac Seul First Nation on May 4, 2021, to provide assistance in dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. The Rangers are working alongside First Nations partners to provide humanitarian assistance and address the immediate needs of this remote community. Similarly, Canadian Rangers were activated in the Moose Cree First Nation on May 10 and CAF support will also be provided to Neskantaga First Nation in Ontario to provide assistance with COVID-19 response efforts in the communities. The Government of Canada will continue to support communities in whatever capacity is required and whenever they are needed. ISC has also purchased and deployed nine BLU-MED structures and nine Matrix Aviation Solutions structures for 16 First Nations communities in Ontario to be used in the communities’ COVID-19 responses, including for screening and isolation purposes. ISC also procured and delivered two new COVID-19 isolation units to Neskantaga First Nation, which are now fully operational. ISC has also funded 46 additional structures to support the needs of First Nations communities. These units provide additional capacity in communities as alternate-care facilities to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

The Canadian Rangers are also assisting communities in the Northwest Territories in response to the flooding of the Mackenzie River.

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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