Marg Friesen says it's possible to hold a large event in Saskatchewan during COVID-19 and have it be successful.
The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) held the Batoche Métis Fall Festival from Sept. 2 to 5. About 4,000 people came from across the province to watch jigging and fiddling competitions, as well as the voyageur games.
The MN-S did not ease COVID-19 restrictions. Friesen, the minister of health for MN-S, said everyone was asked to provide proof of vaccination before they went into the festival and had their temperature checked.
Anyone who was not vaccinated had to undergo a rapid test to make sure they were not infectious. Only two people were turned away.
"We weren't worried because we had done quite a bit of preparing our communities and our citizens about the importance of being vaccinated," Friesen told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.
"We were really wanting to celebrate with folks that we hadn't seen for about a year and a half."
Friesen said a lot of preparation went into making the event go smoothly. The Saskatchewan Health Authority set up a pop-up vaccine clinic to make sure everyone who wanted a vaccine could get one.
"You need to be well-organized," she said. "And you have to be prepared for all scenarios."
Friesen said the MN-S vaccine lottery — which features prizes including scholarships, a truck and a pontoon boat — has also been very successful. So far the lottery has had about 6,000 entries.
She said anything that will get more people vaccinated is worthwhile.
"There's been some reluctance for vaccines across the province and we're seeing numbers on the rise," she said.
"It's really important that we express how important it is to be vaccinated."