‘It only takes one:’ COVID-19 cases continue to surge among First Nations in Manitoba
“This is a war,” Monias says. “But it’s a different type of war. It’s not an enemy you can see.”
There’s been a massive surge of COVID-19 infections in Manitoba over the last few months, prompting increased restrictions and stark warnings from health officials. In recent weeks, a significant proportion of those new cases have been in First Nations populations.
The Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team reported Friday there were 838 active COVID-19 cases among First Nations people — 20 per cent of all active cases in the province.
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“It is obvious at the provincial level that the pandemic response is beyond inadequate, and now our critical care resources are on the verge of collapse.”
As of Monday, there have been a total of 679 active COVID-19 cases among First Nations on-reserve and off-reserve in Manitoba according to the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba.
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According to a report by Hill Strategies, a Canadian company that uses social science research methods for the arts, “Indigenous artists have a median income of $16,600… whereas non-Indigenous artists have a median income of $24,600.”
A national survey launched this year by I Lost My Gig Canada found that as of Aug. 15 the average artisan or craftsperson lost or was at risk of losing $32,400 in opportunities due to event cancellations and loss of sales.
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“What is actually going on out there in the world that people can exchange ideas about and learn from each other and maybe even invest together in solutions? Then the other thing about the festival, we have got some great music coming with authors and really good writers, we have got entertainment,” said Gill in an interview with APTN News.
Language key to First Nations heritage
For Boandik elder Aunty Penny Bonney, who helped launched NAIDOC Week with a flag-raising ceremony in Mount Gambier on Monday, it is a time to honour the past while building towards the future.
“It’s about recognising our ancestors, our First Nations people that roamed this beautiful country,” Aunty Penny said.