Indigenous

COVID-19 in Indigenous communities: What you need to know

The total number of hospitalizations for people on First Nations due to COVID-19 has gone up by 17 since Jan. 4, while the number of active cases has nearly doubled since last week.

7 more deaths since last week

Health care workers administer COVID-19 vaccinations to members of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in British Columbia, March 10, 2021. The total number of hospitalizations for people on First Nations due to COVID-19 has gone up by 17 since Jan. 4. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The total number of hospitalizations for people on First Nations due to COVID-19 has gone up by 17 since Jan. 4, while the number of active cases has nearly doubled since last week.

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) said as of Jan. 11, there had been 2,490 total hospitalizations in First Nations communities due to COVID-19, and 573 deaths.

According to data from ISC, there were 4,985 active cases of COVID-19 reported in First Nations as of Jan. 11. This is up from the 2,667 active cases reported as of Jan. 4. 

Case numbers may be understated as some provinces are now limiting access to PCR tests. 

To date, ISC is aware of a total of 1,164 cases in First Nations communities due to the Omicron variant: 760 in Eastern Canada and 404 in Western Canada. A total of 52 First Nations have reported cases of the strain. 

Total case numbers in First Nations communities per region as of Jan. 11:

  • British Columbia: 6,782
  • Alberta: 15,293
  • Saskatchewan: 14,027
  • Manitoba: 13,681
  • Ontario: 5,803
  • Quebec: 3,378
  • Atlantic: 829

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People are burnt-out

Danielle Bourque-Bearskin, the nurse in charge at Beaver Lake Cree Nation, 100 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, said the community has "done well" when it comes to responding to each wave of COVID-19 so far, but that people are feeling burnt-out since the Omicron variant emerged.

Danielle Bourque-Bearskin is the nurse in charge at the Beaver Lake Cree Nation Health Centre. She said that the latest Omicron wave has left people feeling burnt out. (Submitted by Danielle Bourque-Bearskin)

"With Omicron, a lot of people are hesitant to go about their normal lives," said Bourque-Bearskin, who is from the community. 

"I think people are just exhausted. They're burnt-out. And I think a lot of people are experiencing COVID fatigue."

She said the First Nation has had success in its vaccination program, with over 70 per cent having had first doses, and close to 70 per cent for second doses.

Bourque-Bearskin said cases are being underreported in her community and that the First Nation has made an effort to ensure rapid tests are widely available.

"We're currently trying to create a plan to reopen with the Omicron variant. So it's been challenging to say the least," she said. 

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