COVID-19 in Indigenous communities: New cases continue to climb in First Nations

There are 197 active cases of COVID-19 on First Nations reserves across Canada, according to data from Indigenous Services Canada.

Indigenous Services Canada signs agreement to get rapid testing kits in First Nations

A multi-phased wellness campaign that targets First Nations in northern Manitoba is beginning with the launch of a public service announcement encouraging flu vaccinations. (Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc.)

There are 197 active cases of COVID-19 on First Nations reserves across Canada as of Oct. 13, according to data from Indigenous Services Canada.

In an update released Oct. 9, the federal department said it is working to support access to point-of-care testing in First Nations communities. The federal department signed an agreement with Abbott Rapid Diagnostics to purchase up to 20.5 million Panbio COVID-19 Antigen rapid tests. The test kit, about the size of a toaster, can provide results within 13 minutes.

In the last week, 158 new cases were reported on-reserve. It marks the highest new number of cases affecting Indigenous communities thus far in the pandemic.

New cases continue to surge in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

A spike in new cases was also reported in Six Nations of the Grand River in southern Ontario over the Thanksgiving long weekend. Ohsweken Public Health confirmed 14 active cases and 33 probable cases associated with private gatherings in the community. 

"Our health care staff are exhausted, and contact-tracing is not yet complete. Health care perspectives and advice can't be ignored; they are working around the clock to keep us safe," said Lori Davis Hill, director of health services at Ohsweken Public Health, in a statement Tuesday.

There have been a total of 880 cases on-reserve since the pandemic started. Six additional hospitalizations were reported since last week bringing the total to 66, and the number of deaths remains at 13. A total of 670 First Nations people have recovered from the disease.

Total cases on First Nations reserves per region reported as of Oct. 13:

  • British Columbia: 169
  • Alberta: 336
  • Saskatchewan: 133
  • Manitoba: 81
  • Ontario: 98
  • Quebec: 63

COVID-19 stories

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