COVID-19 in Indigenous communities: 'alarming rise' in new and active cases

In the last week, 49 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in First Nations reserves across Canada, according to data from Indigenous Services Canada.

Rise of new COVID-19 cases linked to private gatherings, says Indigenous Services Canada

The Yukon authors of a letter published in Science last month, Anne Mease, Joe Cooper Jack, Katarzyna Nowak and Jared Gonet. The letter argues that Indigenous principles and knowledge should inform a global strategy for recovering from the pandemic. (Submitted, credit to Adil Darvesh)

Indigenous communities have been facing an "alarming rise in the number of new and active COVID-19 cases," says Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).

In an update news release Oct. 2, ISC said the rise in new and active COVID-19 cases has been linked to private gatherings, as well as exposure to positive cases from outside of communities. The department reiterated the importance of limiting non-essential trips and maintaining physical distancing from others. 

Two First Nations people living on-reserve died of COVID-19 in the last week, bringing the death toll to 13, according to data from the federal department.

In the last week, 49 new cases have been reported on-reserve. New cases continue to climb in Manitoba after an outbreak in Little Grand Rapids First Nation affecting 19 community members. Five new cases were also reported in Six Nations of the Grand River, in southern Ontario. Kahnawake's COVID-19 task force announced it had five active cases in the Mohawk community south of Montreal as well. 

There are a total of 95 active cases in First Nations across the country as of Oct. 5. There have been a total of 722 cases on-reserve since the pandemic started. Six additional hospitalizations were reported since last week bringing the total to 60. A total of 614 First Nations people have recovered from the disease. 

A total of 21 confirmed positive cases have also been reported in the Nunavik region of Quebec as of Oct. 1, and all but three have recovered.   

Total cases on First Nations reserves per region reported as of Oct. 5:

  • British Columbia: 161
  • Alberta: 298
  • Saskatchewan: 99
  • Manitoba: 31
  • Ontario: 80
  • Quebec: 53

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What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

  • new or worsening cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • temperature equal to or over 38°C
  • feeling feverish
  • chills
  • fatigue or weakness
  • muscle or body aches
  • new loss of smell or taste
  • headache
  • gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting)
  • feeling very unwell

If you think you may have COVID-19, please consult your local health department to book an appointment at a screening clinic. 

CBC Indigenous is looking to hear from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit who have contracted COVID-19. If you would like to share your experience, please email us at