Native Council of P.E.I. plans COVID-19 vaccine clinic

The Native Council of P.E.I. is working with Health PEI on a plan to vaccinate as many as 1,500 Indigenous Islanders living off reserve.

'It certainly means a lot to us,' says council representative

Having the vaccinations delivered in a group setting is important to Indigenous people living on the Island, says Wanda Lyall at the Native Council of P.E.I. (File photo from Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Native Council of working with Health PEI on a plan to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to as many as 1,500 Indigenous Islanders living off reserve.

The council represents status and non-status Indigenous people who are not residing on one of the four reserves overseen by P.E.I.'s two First Nations, Lennox Island and Abegweit. (Those reserves are located at Morell, Rocky Point, Scotchfort and Lennox Island.)

"It certainly means a lot to us. We are a grassroots, community-based organization," said Wanda Lyall, the finance director at the council.

She said the community has suffered during the pandemic because members have not been allowed to gather for powwows or meetings to share food and ceremonies that are important in Indigenous culture. 

"To have an opportunity to have this vaccination — and to have it in a group setting — is going to go a long way towards us being able to get back to our… normal," Lyall said. 

The council has about 1,100 members, but people do not need to be council members to access its programs and services, including this clinic.

Wanda Lyall says 1,200 to 1,500 people are likely eligible to be vaccinated through the council's upcoming clinic. (Native Council of P.E.I. )

Lyall puts the number of people who might be eligible for the clinic at 1,200 to 1,500. 

The council has detailed membership and contact lists of people living on P.E.I. who identify as Indigenous, and Lyall said they plan to reach out to all those people to come for vaccinations. They will also post notices on social media and may do some traditional media announcements as well. 

If they happen to miss a person who is Indigenous and living off-reserve, she said those people can bring identification such as a status card or membership card from another organization, and they will consider that person's eligibility. 

Site visit comes next

No date has been set yet for the clinic.

The council is now waiting for Health PEI to come and do a site visit at their Charlottetown office.

"We're confident that we're actually going to be able to do our clinic right here at the Native Council," Lyall said.

She said she does not know which version of the COVID-19 vaccine they will be receiving, Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech.

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With files from Angela Walker