BREATHE: New message encouraging northern First Nations to get the flu shot

Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. (KIM) has released a new video called “Breathe” that will run for 30 days nationwide starting Oct. 12 as a public service announcement.

This video is the first phase of the KIM’s Immunity Wellness campaign designed to promote awareness of minoayawin, which is Cree for wellness, and to encourage northern First Nations in Manitoba to protect their loved ones by getting the flu vaccine in preparation for the influenza season.

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“We aimed to deliver strength-based messaging with this video to encourage First Nations citizens on how they can best prepare for the flu season, and to protect their loved ones through getting the flu vaccine,” said Dr. Barry Lavallee, KIM’s chief executive officer in a press release.

The two-minute video features music from Darryl Buck, a musician from the Mosakahiken and Opaskwayak Cree Nations, and showcases face masks from Cynthia Boehm, a beadwork artist from Norway House. It also displays the nature and beauty of northern First Nations, while highlighting the importance of taking care of the land, one’s self, and each other.

The Immunity Wellness video was produced by CoPilot Collective. The team travelled to northern communities such as Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Troy Lake, and Thompson, capturing footage at Pisew Falls and during the closing dance of a Sundance ceremony.

“Breathe” is now available to watch on KIM’s new YouTube channel.

KIM has also created radio public service announcements in English, Cree, and Dene, which are primary languages spoken in Northern Manitoba. The announcements will be aired province-wide on NCI-FM, CHTM Arctic Radio, and various First Nations community radio stations.

“Northern First Nations have worked diligently to prepare their communities for COVID-19, and now it’s time to work together to prevent the spread of the flu,” said Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “I am proud that KIM has developed a video that promotes the uptake of the flu vaccine in a way that resonates with northern First Nations and speaks to First Nations’ connection to culture, language, families, and to the land,” he added.

In collaboration with MKO, KIM has been providing informative, accurate, and consistent messaging for northern First Nations in regards to the pandemic. Both KIM and MKO are encouraging all First Nations people to get vaccinated for the flu this year.

“For a number of years, Manitoba Health has prioritized getting vaccines out to First Nations communities, so basically it’s going out as we speak and will be going out over the next period of time and then it will be up to the communities working with the health-care providers to set up options for people to receive the vaccine,” said Mike Routledge, population health medical advisor for KIM.

— Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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