Vaccine site open in Winnipeg for First Nations health workers, Healers and Knowledge Keepers

WINNIPEG — A new vaccine site is open in Winnipeg, specifically designed for First Nations.

The site is being used to vaccinate First Nation health-care workers, Knowledge Keepers and Traditional Healers.

It will be able to provide 889 appointments in the next few days.

Michael David Blacksmith, who is a traditional ceremony and sundance leader from the Pimicikamak Cree Nation, said this is a moment he has been waiting for.

“The vaccine will help us get back to some sort of normal. It’s so important for Canadian society that we beat the virus and we need to beat it together,” he said in a news release.

The province is encouraging eligible people to book an appointment as soon as possible, as the site is a pop-up and set up for a limited time.

“Healers and Knowledge Keepers are essential to the health and wellness of Indigenous people across the province of Manitoba,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee with the MKO, in a news release. “I encourage everyone who receives an opportunity to be vaccinated at the pop-up site to take it to protect themselves.”

The provincial government has allocated 11,800 doses of the vaccine for First Nation communities, which includes the Winnipeg site.

An opening ceremony, smudge, and prayer were held at the clinic on Monday as part of opening the site.

Southern Chiefs’ Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said First Nations communities rely on the health and wellness of Healers and Knowledge Keepers.

“I want to thank the First Nation health experts and front-line workers who have put in many hours of tireless work to make this site a reality. The best defence against COVID-19 that we have right now is the vaccine,” said Daniels in a news release.

CTV News will update this story when more details are available.

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