COVID-19 Daily News Digest – January 6, 2020
Vaccinations begin in remote First Nations communities on Island
The Ehattesaht Nation near Zeballos is one of at least eight remote First Nations communities on Vancouver Island that has received the COVID-19 vaccine and is already putting needles in arms.
To date, almost half the 10,700 doses of Moderna vaccine earmarked for rural and remote First Nations communities in B.C. have been distributed to 18 rural and remote First Nations communities, including eight on the Island. The doses are to be delivered this week.
Mike Harris’s nomination to the Order of Ontario sparks Indigenous outrage
A group representing seven Ontario First Nations is outraged by the nomination of former premier Mike Harris to the Order of Ontario, calling it an “insult,” a “slap in the face” and a “step back in reconciliation.”
The controversial former premier was on a list of 47 people nominated to receive Ontario’s highest honour for individual excellence and achievement, released by the province on New Year’s Day.
I had some expletives that I won’t get into, but I was like, ‘Was this real?
“You have to have blinders on to think this is a good Premier, a good person that is deserving of this sort of recognition,” he said.
“We think it’s a horrible choice to recognize him.”
YELLOWKNIFER APRIL 2020 REVIEW: Covid-19 check point
Community advocates in Yellowknife have long called on the GNWT to implement a managed alcohol program for the city’s most vulnerable.
Now it’s happening, at least temporarily, at the joint day shelter and sobering centre, according to the NWT Disabilities Council.
“With controlled distribution of alcohol and no access to illegal drugs, the people we support are telling us how they feel healthier than they have years,” stated Alannis McKee, director of programs at the NWT Disabilities Council.
B.C. aiming to have all First Nations communities immunized by end of March
“Contingent on supply, our plan is to begin our mass vaccination strategy based on age and then descending in five-year cohorts after our 80-plus priority population is completed,” Henry said.
“We are working on how do we do that to make sure that it’s accessible and fair for people around the province.”
‘We’re not very happy’: First Nations say they weren’t consulted about northern Sask. Moderna vaccine rollout
Brian Hardlotte, chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council, said while he’s glad communities in Saskatchewan’s northcentral and northwestern regions received the vaccine, he isn’t pleased how the province handled the vaccination process.
“There was a committee formed, and that was before the Christmas season, and I thought our health directors were supposed to part of the consultation,” Hardlotte said.
Native Americans struggle to protect their culture amid elder COVID-19 deaths
“Every time one of those elders leaves this world, it’s like a whole library, a whole beautiful chapter of our history, of our ceremonies – all that knowledge, gone,” said Clayson Benally, a member of Navajo Nation, citing a CNN report.
“It’s not written, it’s not dictated, you’re not going to find it on the internet,” Clayson added.
The Navajo Nation is the largest indigenous tribe in the U.S. with a population of about 300,000 people. As of Monday, 23,841 have infected with coronavirus and 822 have died from it, figures released by the Navajo Department of Health show.
Northerners, Indigenous Communities Fear Work Camps Still a Pandemic Threat
Given the sacrifices, residents like Ron Mitchell, Hereditary Chief Hagwilnegh, wonder why a B.C. public health order temporarily reducing the number of people in work camps in the region doesn’t go further.
The camps are still allowed to house hundreds of workers, while gatherings in his community are limited to a single household.
“We are not allowed to have family gatherings of six and yet these camps, they’re going to scale down to 400? Give me a break,” says Mitchell, who says the camps should be shut down until the danger of COVID-19 has passed.
‘It lets us down all over again’ says advocate on delay of working group’s advice on MMIWG inquiry’s Calls for Justice
“I want to have (the working group’s report) before the second anniversary coming out of when the report was released,” said Wilson.
The national inquiry’s final report was released June 3, 2019.
In March 2020 the Alberta government established a seven-member joint working group consisting of four Indigenous women and three MLAs. That group was tasked with providing “advice, direction and input into the Alberta government’s proposed action plan to address the calls for justice” from the national inquiry. The working group was given a one-year mandate.
Remote First Nations present logistical challenges in vaccination rollout
The Ehattesaht First Nation northwest of Tofino is accessible by boat or helicopter in good weather, or a three-hour drive on logging roads from Sayward in winter conditions. The village of Ahousaht is a 45-minute boat ride from Tofino, when the ocean swells allow for travel.
Seniors over the age of 80 in the general B.C. population will be prioritized for early vaccination, but the province is setting the age of eligibility for Indigenous seniors lower, “recognizing the higher risk of having some more severe illness in that age group.”
‘It’s a game-changer’: Indigenous leaders encourage communities to line up for COVID-19 vaccine
Getting the vaccination is, yes, it’s about protecting yourself. But for me, it’s more about protecting those that cannot get the vaccine, to protect the children and those that are in the position where, because of their health and other reasons, [they] cannot get immunized,” Lorne Kusugak told The Current‘s Matt Galloway.
“Sometimes it’s not about us. It’s about protecting those that cannot be protected.”
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has advised that adults in Indigenous communities, where COVID-19 infections can have disproportionate consequences, should be among the first people in the country to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.