Region opening COVID-19 vaccination sites for Indigenous community
KITCHENER -- Two pop-up clinics will open in the coming weeks to administer COVID-19 vaccines to Indigenous populations.
In a news release, regional officials said the sites will offer vaccines to First Nation, Métis and Inuit residents in a culturally appropriate setting.
“We appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with local First Nation, Métis and Inuit Elders and identify challenges and opportunities for increasing vaccination among Indigenous residents wherever they live in the region,” Dept. Chief Shirley Hilton said in the release. “An important focus for the (vaccine) task force is to prioritize Indigenous people in our immunization efforts and to provide culturally appropriate places to get immunized.”
Anishnabeg Outreach will offer a clinic at 236 Woodhaven Rd. on March 19 and 20. The Healing of Seven Generations and KW Urban Wigwam Project will offer a clinic at regional headquarters, located at 150 Frederick St., on March 24 and 25.
Each location will have an elder available to answer questions about health, culture and vaccine hesitancy.
Donna Dubie, executive director for The Healing of the Seven Generations, said the pop-up sites will offer a safe location for the Indigenous community.
"Some of the community members are going to be doing a little bit of hand drumming, just to help them feel comfortable," she said.
There are around 50,000 Indigenous people in Waterloo Region, many of whom are hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
"Historically Indigenous people were used, I don't want to say as guinea pigs, but test subjects for negative vaccinations in the past," said Stephen Jackson, CEO of Anishnabeg Outreach.
Jackson said working with the region has helped ease some of those concerns.
"I think that's the first step towards reconciliation in the region," Jackson said.
The clinics will be available until all Indigenous community members who want to receive the vaccine are able to do so.
The region is currently rolling out vaccines for Phase One populations, including adults over the age of 80 and high-risk health-care workers.
With reporting by CTV News Kitchener's Stephanie Villella