WATCH — Why Indigenous communities are prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine

Isabel DeRoy-Olson
Story by Isabel DeRoy-Olson and CBC Kids News • 2021-05-17 12:30

All Indigenous adults were recommended to go first


Ontario has announced that Indigenous people in that province will be among the first to get their second — and final — COVID-19 vaccine shots.

The province made the news official on May 10.

Indigenous adults also took priority in many places in December 2020, when the first shots were administered to Canadians.

Whether you lived on reserve or in the city, most Indigenous people were directed to the front of the line, alongside front-line workers, the elderly and people at a higher risk because of health conditions.

But why? CBC Kids News contributor Isabel DeRoy-Olson set out to investigate.

Click play to find out what she discovered!

When the COVID-19 vaccines started arriving in Canada, there weren’t enough to go around.

Ultimately, it was up to the provinces and territories to decide who got the shot first.

But the national advisory committee on vaccinations and the federal government felt that people in Indigenous communities were particularly at risk from COVID-19 and should be prioritized.

A freeze frame from a zoom video chat of Dr. Marcia Anderson

Dr. Marcia Anderson told Isabel that Indigenous people have been adversely affected by past diseases and pandemics. (Image credit: Jamie McMahon/CBC)

That’s because of data from past pandemics and diseases, which showed that people in Indigenous communities suffered more than the general population did.

“Those reasons aren’t because of any genetic differences between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people,” said Dr. Marcia Anderson, a past president of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada.

Isabel asked her dad, Steve DeRoy, to share his experience getting vaccinated as an Indigenous man. He said he felt it went very well. (Image credit: Isabel DeRoy-Olson)

It has to do with how Indigenous people were treated in the past, Anderson said.

Those decisions “put Indigenous people in environments that make it more risky for respiratory viruses to spread,” she said.

That includes some people living in overcrowded and inadequate housing, Anderson said, and in situations where they might not have the money to afford proper care and healthy food.

Watch the video at the top of the page to learn more!

TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Angela Weiss/Getty Images with design by Philip Street/CBC

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About the Contributor

Isabel DeRoy-Olson
Isabel DeRoy-Olson
CBC Kids News Contributor
Isabel DeRoy-Olson is a Grade 12 student and lives in North Vancouver on Tsleil Waututh territory. She is a citizen of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation from the Yukon territory and Annishabe from Manitoba. Isabel is passionate about acting and dancing and loves to learn more about Indigenous identity, gender and social justice. She is excited about the opportunity to start these conversations and more with kids across Canada.