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Northern Manitoba First Nation winning COVID fight due to high vaccination rate

A Northern Manitoba First Nation says they are now winning the fight against COVID-19, because so many community members have made the choice to get vaccinated. In a video released Aug.
Pimicikamak Cree Nation Chief David Monias speaks about the effect vaccinations are having on the CO
Pimicikamak Cree Nation Chief David Monias speaks about the effect vaccinations are having on the COVID-19 situation Cross Lake in a video released Aug. 30.

A Northern Manitoba First Nation says they are now winning the fight against COVID-19, because so many community members have made the choice to get vaccinated.

In a video released Aug. 30, Pimicikamak Cree Nation Chief David Monias said that in the community, which sits about 530 kilometres north of Winnipeg and is home to about 8,500 on reserve residents, 90 per cent of eligible community members have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In his video message, Monias thanked residents who have received the shot, but added he is also thankful that a high vaccination rate could lead to less kids getting sick in the community moving forward.

“To the citizens, family, and friends, I just want to say on behalf of the chief and council thank you to the people who got vaccinated, and thank you for protecting your children.” Monias said.

It has been a difficult time in the community since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Monias said in the video, so the vaccination numbers should come as a relief to him and many others in the community.

Pimicikamak has been in and out of lockdowns, and at times has taken steps to avoid COVID transmission, including not allowing non-essential workers or those without medical appointments to come or go from the community.

The community at points has also created checkpoints to monitor traffic, collect contact information, and check the temperatures of those being let in our out.

Pimicikamak also called in the Canadian Armed Forces earlier this year to help with aid during the worst of the pandemic as, at one point in late February the community had 178 active cases, with 87 of those cases being children.

“And I want to say we went through hard times but we saw the light, we went through the tunnel, and got through it together,” Monias said. “You are strong, you are truly committed to the health and well-being of our community, and I thank you so much for that.”

The chief now has a message for those who are unsure or don’t plan to get vaccinated in Pimicikamak Cree Nation.

“For the people who have not yet been vaccinated please do so for the betterment of our community, and for the protection of our children, and for our future.” he said.

Information found on the province of Manitoba website Aug. 31 showed that in all Manitoba First Nations communities in the province combined approximately 69 per cent of on-reserve residents who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine have been fully vaccinated.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the government of Canada.