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

Ontario: 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.

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