Indigenous-only COVID-19 immunization clinic launches Monday in Calgary

·2 min read
A group of organizations is launching Alberta's first Indigenous urban COVID-19 immunization clinic in Calgary Monday morning.  (Dave Gilson/CBC - image credit)
A group of organizations is launching Alberta's first Indigenous urban COVID-19 immunization clinic in Calgary Monday morning. (Dave Gilson/CBC - image credit)

Alberta's first Indigenous urban COVID-19 immunization clinic will be launched in Calgary on Monday.

The clinic will be located at the Circle of Wisdom Elders and Seniors Centre.

The push for the clinic was prompted by several organizations, including the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary (AFCC), Siksika Health Services, Circle of Wisdom Elders and Seniors Centre as well as Okaki and Seven Brothers Circle.

The clinic's launch coincides with the launch of Phase 2A, in which First Nations, Métis and Inuit people born 1971 or earlier, no matter where they live, are able to book vaccines either at a pharmacy or online with Alberta Heath Services.

The organizations say their goal is to get as many of the city's Indigenous seniors vaccinated as soon as possible in a culturally-safe environment.

Elder Earnie Poundmaker with the AFCC says some seniors can face language and cultural challenges when accessing services, while others carry concerns around systemic racism and trauma through past experiences.

He says the clinic will help with their health and welfare.

Elder Earnie Poundmaker is with the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary, one of the organizations involved with the launch.
Elder Earnie Poundmaker is with the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary, one of the organizations involved with the launch.(Dave Gilson/CBC)

"First of all they're coming into an Indigenous setting and if you look around me, you'll see all these things that relate to our culture," he said.

"That's going to present a sense of security, a sense of welcoming to them."

Beth Woytas, director of programs with Okaki and Seven Brothers Circle, a public health informatics social enterprise, said the groups partnered with AHS and the University of Calgary to put the plan together.

"We've set up a safe, culturally-appropriate clinic where they come, where there's Indigenous people on staff, people that they're familiar with in a facility that they would traditionally come and access services anyway," she said.

She said the clinic is by appointment only and the hope is that they can put through up to 22 people a day.

"Whether they can travel to the reserve to get their vaccine was the reason why we opened this clinic … this clinic is right off the CTrain and it's in a building where they know where it is," Woytas said.

Woytas adds that seniors will also receive a bagged lunch after getting the vaccine.

"We're adding those extra little pieces and touches that are culturally relevant and culturally important," she said.