As the number of Indigenous people to receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is steadily on the rise, community members in Kanesatake are no exception to this trend.
The local Emergency Response Unit (ERU) responsible for the vaccine rollout announced on Monday, May 31, that clinics are preparing to welcome the population again, to resume with the vaccination campaign that began last fall and administer second doses.
In order to achieve this, ERU spokesperson Robert Bonspiel explained that five priority groups were established.
The first group was the residents at Kanesatake’s Riverside Elder’s Home, who received their second dose on Monday.
Directly after are youth aged 12 and older who will be eligible to register for their first vaccine dose.
“With the targeted demographic that is specifically 12 to 17 years of age, they actually represent a large portion of the community,” said Bonspiel. “As such, when they are not vaccinated, it leaves a huge opening for the possible reintroduction of the virus in the community.” That is why it was important for the unit to categorize the age group as second priority.
In third comes those who have not yet received a first dose. Meanwhile, the fourth group consists of Kanesatake residents living in the community and staff at the Riverside Elder’s Home wishing to receive their second dose.
Bonspiel explained that people who fall under the fifth priority group are members of communities with which Kanesatake has a vaccination agreement, including Mi’kmaq and Innu Nations.
“We are following up with our initial endeavour to assist not only other Kanien’kehá:ka communities, but other First Nations ones too, who did not necessarily have the infrastructure,” he said.
In the months of March and April, the Kanienʼkehá:ka community allowed members of communities as far as 900 KM away, living in the metropolitan area, the opportunity to be vaccinated in Kanesatake.
According to Indigenous Services Canada, on June 1 there were a total of 508,883 doses administered to Onkwehón:we in 687 different communities.
As for Kanesatake, the community has so far been able to offer 1,272 shots of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Laurence Brisson Dubreuil, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door