New pop up vaccine clinic in Winnipeg prioritizing shots for Indigenous people

A pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic is opening up in Winnipeg. According to the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 pandemic response coordination team, in total, 889 appointments will be available at the site in the coming days. Mark Neufeld reports.

By Mark Neufeld

WINNIPEG – A pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic is opening up in Winnipeg prioritizing Indigenous Manitobans but First Nations’ distrust of government has some opting to skip inoculation.

The new immunization site is for First Nations health care workers, knowledge keepers, and priority populations identified by First Nation medical leadership.

“[At first], I wasn’t sure if I trusted the vaccine,” said David Blacksmith, a traditional healer.

Blacksmith recently received a COVID-19 vaccine after being told in a dream it would be okay to get the shot. Blacksmith is now sharing his story and experience with others in the community who are hesitant to get the vaccine themselves or don’t trust the medical system that developed it.

“I had a bit of a sore arm last night, but nothing, no side effects, no I didn’t wake up I slept good and this morning I thought. I think they saved my life from COVID.”

“Our people need to hear from our people the stories of how this vaccine was created, what are the efficacy pieces associated with it,” said Diane Longboat, an elder for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

Longboat is a ceremonial leader, teacher, and healer. Longboat partnered with the women’s hospital college and others to help create an online portal focusing on First Nations, Inuit, and Metis perspective on the COVID-19 vaccine

“And it had to be done in a culturally responsive way that our people would see our people speaking to us and have trust in the entire system,” said Longboat.

Longboat says trust issues between First Nations people and Canada is a long-standing issue. She says it comes in the form of educational mistrust from residential schools, the 60s Scoop and stolen children, and a lack of trust with policing following decades of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

Longboat, along with Dr. Lisa Richardson, is working to overcome trust issues when it comes to First Nations people considering whether or not to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

“So, it’s a very specific kind of concern that needs to be addressed and that’s why when information comes from indigenous providers and indigenous organizations it has a different form of credibility and meaning to it,” said Richardson.

According to the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team, a total of 889 appointments will be available at the pop-up site in the coming days.

In total, 11,800 doses of the vaccine have been allocated to First Nation communities by the province.

“This is a critical step in ensuring we respond effectively to COVID-19 and ensure the vaccine is available to every First Nation person who wants to be immunized,” said Dr. Marcia Anderson, public health lead with the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today