Government of Canada supporting community-led initiatives for vaccination in Northern Ontario

News release

January 29, 2021 - Ottawa, Ontario - Public Health Agency of Canada

Indigenous Peoples face unique challenges in accessing COVID-19 vaccines. Engagement and coordinated planning between the federal and provincial governments and Indigenous leaders is vital to support community-led approaches for access to culturally safe immunization. Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), representing 49 First Nation communities, is playing a key role in this work in Northern Ontario.

Today, during a virtual town hall hosted by NAN, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, underscored that all levels of government must continue to engage and work together with Indigenous leadership, partners and communities to inform and support COVID-19 vaccine planning and rollout. She also commended NAN's leadership in providing its members with vaccine-related information and for its collaboration with the federal and provincial governments.

NAN is working closely with the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario to support the timely distribution of vaccines to remote communities. Ontario's air ambulance and medical transport service ORNGE, First Nations, Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority and Canadian Armed Forces personnel are providing critical logistical support for vaccine distribution in northern Ontario. Indigenous Services Canada is working with NAN, community leaders, the Government of Ontario, public health units, and Indigenous health authorities and service organizations to recruit, train and certify additional health care providers and support staff to administer vaccines.

This collaboration is helping to provide members of First Nations communities in northern Ontario with timely, consistent, trusted, accessible and culturally relevant information so that they can make informed decisions about being immunized against COVID-19. This information also includes the importance of maintaining public health measures, such as wearing a mask, staying two metres apart, washing hands, and avoiding gatherings, throughout the vaccination campaign.


"It was a privilege to join Nishnawbe Aski Nation today to help share information about the vaccine roll-out. Vaccines help protect your community and make it harder for the virus to spread. When you get a vaccine, it helps to keep you, your family, friends, Elders and your community safe. I thank the NAN leadership for their support of First Nation communities in their fight against COVID-19."

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

"It was a pleasure to participate in today's town hall with Minister Hajdu, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Fiddler, Mae Katt, and Dr. Isaac Bogoch to talk about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is an important tool in ending the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the safety of our families and communities. As the vaccine rollout continues, it will be critical to remain vigilant and continue following public health measures and guidance. Our Government will continue to support communities and partners in advocating for Indigenous Peoples to be prioritized for vaccine access. I wish to recognize the extraordinary efforts of NAN and other First Nations communities in protecting their members throughout this pandemic."

Pam Damoff
Parliamentary Secretary to the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services

"I thank Minister Hajdu, Mae Katt, and Dr. Issac Bogoch for joining us today. As the vaccine becomes available to our communities, it is critical to provide our members with accurate and reliable information. We are committed to ensuring everyone across NAN territory knows the vaccine is safe and can confidently give their consent to receive it. This event is just one way we are responding to the concerns of NAN citizens about vaccines. We must remain vigilant in doing our part to end this pandemic. We are working to ensure those who are eligible to receive the vaccine have access to it in order to protect those who aren't. We all have a part to play in ending this pandemic."

Alvin Fiddler
Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief

Quick Facts

  • As of January 29, 2021, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is aware of 299 communities with vaccinations underway (for either priority groups or all adults) in Indigenous communities in the provinces and territories.
  • Shipping, handling and storage requirements of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine pose logistical challenges for distribution to the remote Northern regions of Canada. Given that the Moderna vaccine can be shipped, handled and stored by the logistics service provider at a temperature of -20oC, it is considered to be a more suitable vaccine for distribution to remote areas.

Associated Links


Cole Davidson
Office of Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Inquiries:


Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: