COVID-19 Daily News Digest – January 3rd, 2021
COVID-19 shows the cracks in public education – here’s how to repair them
The one area where the federal government has been responsible for designing, managing and delivering kindergarten to Grade 12 education programs has been the provision of schooling for First Nations children living on reserves. Combined with chronic infrastructure underfunding that impacts many Indigenous communities’ quality of life, Ottawa is failing at this.
According to a report by the C.D. Howe Institute based on the 2016 census, 92 per cent of non-Indigenous Canadians, 84 per cent of Métis, and 75 per cent of First Nations living off-reserve have completed at least high school. Only 48 per cent of First Nations students living on-reserve have done so.
The federal government fails to provide the resources necessary to ensure effective and equal schooling opportunities for First Nations children and this must urgently change.
Mike Harris’ Order of Ontario appointment ‘an insult’
“The Ipperwash inquiry made it very clear that while he didn’t personally pull the trigger, Mike Harris’ actions as the premier of Ontario contributed to the circumstances that led to the shooting death of unarmed land defender Anthony ‘Dudley’ George on the night of Sept. 6, 1995,” says Hare. “This is an insult to First Nations people. Harris’ contribution to our collective knowledge is anything but positive.”
The year 2020 was the 25th anniversary of the Ipperwash crisis, marked by the Anishinabek Nation with a summer series of educational articles which can be found via Anishinabek News.
Lieutenant Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell announced the appointments on Jan. 1. The Order of Ontario honours individuals whose achievements have left a lasting legacy in the province.
Indigenous health unit at Maniwaki Hospital building trust, community says
The Integrated First Nations Health Service, or Anishinaabe service, was created by the Outaouais health authority in 2016 and opened at the Maniwaki Hospital in 2018.
One of the main benefits of the program is improved communication between community members and health workers, according to Chabot.
Maniwaki is a mostly French-speaking town, but most Indigenous people in the area speak either English or Anishinaabemowin as their first language.
“The translation is very important,” she said.
“Building that and bringing that here and providing a sense of belonging, also with the traditional medicine, with a better understanding of our culture and our history, with the staff, with the people that work here — I think that brings more trust.”
Flooding causes evacuation order for Cowichan Tribes land; COVID-19 confirmed within First Nation
“Please consider leaving your home immediately if your safety is at risk or if flooding is about to happen near you. Residents will be given as much advance notice as possible prior to a declared evacuation; however, you may receive limited notice due to changing conditions,” the alert reads.
“People with mobility issues are strongly encouraged to leave now and identify their transportation options. Accommodations options are available through Cowichan Tribes.”
COVID-19 complicated the flood response.
In a news release on the Cowichan Tribes website dated Jan. 1, it states that there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Cowichan Tribes community.
“This is a difficult time for all of us, and the next few weeks will be challenging. But we are a strong Nation, and we will get through this. Now, we all need to stay home, stay safe, and support each other. Let’s work together as a Nation to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect our Sul’wheen and our loved ones,” Seymour said.
Snuneymuxw First Nation declares COVID-19 cluster, issues shelter-in-place order
The Snuneymuxw First Nation said in a statement posted to Twitter that it now has seven active cases of COVID-19 in the community.
It said in two new cases reported Saturday, transmission occurred from a member of the same household, but one other case is unrelated.
The nation is asking all its members to stay at home unless there’s an emergency or it’s for essential reasons. The order takes effect at 9 p.m. Saturday and will for 14 days.
It says each household should designate one person to carry out essential trips and limit those to once a week if possible.
COVID-19 Vaccines arrive on Blood Reserve
Kainai Continuing Care Staff and Residents have received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Alberta Health Services began to administer the first COVID-19 vaccinations on December 24th to Kainai Continuing Care Centre staff and followed by the facility’s residents on January 1, 2021.
30 staff members and 18 residents of the Kainai Continuing Care Centre received the first of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Facilities on first nation reserves are among the top of the priority list for receiving vaccines first.
Risk of exposure to COVID during flight from Timmins
It was Air Creebec, flight No. 871 from Timmins to Moosonee, Fort Albany, Kashechewan and Peawnuck.
The aircraft had a scheduled departure from Timmins airport at 9:11 a.m.
“Passengers on this flight are considered close contacts and must self-isolate immediately and call the Porcupine Health Unit’s COVID-19 Information at 1-800-461-1818,” the PHU stated in a release issued Saturday.
In the meantime, the latest local case of COVID-19 is the 131st for the PHU area.
The Weeneebayko Area Health Authority issued a release Saturday stating, “As of 10 a.m. today, there is one new positive case of COVID-19 in the region.
“WAHA is working with Porcupine Health Unit, the FNIHB (First Nations and Inuit Health Branch) and the community public health department to ensure that the individuals are isolated, and that the contact tracing investigation is ongoing. Public health is currently following up with anyone identified as close contacts … Public Health will contact you if you are considered a close contact.”
COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout In Alberta Is Slow But Will Pickup As New Shipments Arrive
The Moderna vaccine has also been approved by Health Canada and will be instrumental in getting First Nations and isolated areas immunized as the Moderna vaccine does not require specialized freezer units. This means that it can be distributed to isolated and remote Indigenous communities, including communities in the territories.
This distribution will enable vaccine access in particular to the territories, in Inuit Nunangat, and to vulnerable, remote and isolated Indigenous Nations.
Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), stated in a COVID update that “The logistics of a COVID-19 vaccine requires significant coordination amongst partners. That is why ISC is working closely with Indigenous, provincial and territorial partners to ensure an integrated, coordinated and co-developed approach supporting access to a COVID-19 vaccine by Indigenous Peoples and communities.”
COVID-19 Hits 2 First Nations
Two of the region’s First Nations are dealing with COVID-19 cases.
The Wabaseemoong Independent Nation northwest of Kenora has three cases of COVID-19, while one person has tested positive in Wauzhushk Onigum Nation near Kenora.
The Northwestern Health Unit hasn’t confirmed if these are part of yesterday’s update, which listed three cases in the Kenora area and two others in the Rainy River region.
Canadian military leaves Shamattawa First Nation after providing COVID-19 support
When soldiers arrived in mid-December, about one-third of the population of 1,300 had tested positive for the virus.
Now, of the 400 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Shamattawa, only 33 remain active, the military spokesperson said.
The military’s work also enabled the band office and Northern Store to re-open in the community. Essential workers in Shamattawa were also cleared to return to their duties.
“By Dec. 31, all tasks formerly done by [Canadian Forces] are being done by the Shamattawa First Nation Band employees and volunteers,” Le Bouthillier wrote.
The military has already been deployed to at least six remote Indigenous communities in the Prairies and Ontario to help them deal with a surge of COVID-19 cases.
Along with Shamattawa, a 12-person multi-purpose medical team was sent to a care home on Opaskwayak Cree Nation in The Pas from Nov. 21 until Nov. 29.
‘Sky is the limit:’ Pilot project using drones to send medical supplies, COVID-19 tests
“We think that the sky is the limit, literally, for this type of technology, marrying drones with … medical supply delivery,” Conly said.
“We’re just priming ourselves for what could be a great delivery service.
“My vision is we create a drone army that would be supplemental to the medical care that we deliver.”
Hawkins said initial test flights “are going great so far.”
Eden Valley, southwest of Calgary, will provide challenges due to distance and strong winds. Big Horn, in central Alberta, is even farther away and the terrain is more rugged and cell service more spotty.
“Our goal is to prove this technology locally and then we’ll move that Canada-wide potentially – to northern territories with truly remote environments – and then developing countries.”
Hawkins said the Alberta tests are to wrap up by next summer and the idea is drawing international attention.
“We’ve even had interest from the World Health Organization (WHO). They’re actually a funder now and they’re interested in seeing what we can do,” he said.
Marshall McKay, Indigenous leader who helped steer Autry Museum, dies of COVID-19 at 68
Rick West, president and chief executive at the Autry, said McKay’s death marks a huge loss for the museum but also Native culture at large. McKay was, West said, “one of the five — maybe even three — significant Native leaders in the late 20th century and early 21st century period.”
“We will miss his strength and wisdom,” said a joint statement issued by the members of the Yocha Dehe Tribal Council. “He was a resolute protector of Native American heritage here, within our own homeland, but also throughout California and Indian Country.”