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January 21, 2021
Ontario’s plan to vaccinate the populations of its most remote First Nations communities against COVID-19 faces many challenges, but Indigenous leaders say that earning the trust of the people must be a priority.
Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a political organization that represents 49 of Ontario’s 123 First Nations, said that the most obvious hurdle of Operation Remote Immunity is geography, as those remote communities may not have an airstrip and must have their winter roads built in time for the vaccine to be delivered. But he said that even more important than the physical logistics of delivering the vaccine is ensuring that Indigenous people are willing to accept it.
“Making sure that communities are aware of the vaccine, that they understand the vaccine and why it’s important so they can consent to getting the vaccine is part of the challenge,” said Fiddler.