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

The number of new and active COVID-19 cases on First Nations reserves across Canada continues to climb, according to data from Indigenous Services Canada.

8 deaths were reported on-reserve in the last week

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said the growing COVID-19 numbers in Alberta, which has 318 active on-reserve cases in First Nations communities, and Saskatchewan, where there are 344 active cases, are 'alarming,' at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, on Friday, Nov. 20. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

There are currently 1,338 active cases of COVID-19 cases on First Nations reserves across Canada, according to the latest data from Indigenous Services Canada.

The federal department reported 657 new cases in the last week, with outbreaks occurring primarily in the Prairies.

The active COVID-19 caseload in northern Saskatchewan reserves more than doubled with overcrowding, poor housing conditions cited as contributing factors. An outbreak in Fond du Lac Denesuline Nation had the Athabasca Health Authority warning that rule-breakers in the community will cause more COVID-19 infections, after some people who have been exposed to COVID-19 have refused to get tested or self isolate.

In light of the rise in cases in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the federal government announced in a Nov. 20 update that it will be providing $120.37 million in pandemic response funding for Indigenous communities and organizations in both provinces.

In Manitoba, there were 527 new COVID-19 cases among First Nations people in the past week. The military was sent to Opaskwayak Cree Nation after all 28 residents at the northern community's Rod McGillivary Memorial Care Home have tested positive for COVID-19.

8 new deaths

As of Nov. 23, there have been a total of 3,224 cases on-reserve since the pandemic started. Twenty-three additional hospitalizations were reported since last week bringing the total to 143 and eight additional deaths were reported bringing the death toll to 28. The number of First Nations people who have recovered from the disease reached 1,858.

In Nunavut, the territory started its first full week of its "circuit-breaker lockdown" following a spike in COVID-19 cases over the weekend. There are 132 active cases across the territory as of Monday.

As of Nov. 20, there are a total of 29 cases of COVID-19 in the Nunavik region of Quebec, and all but one have recovered.

Total cases on First Nations reserves per region reported as of Nov. 23:

  • British Columbia: 228
  • Alberta: 995
  • Saskatchewan: 867
  • Manitoba: 823
  • Ontario: 183
  • Quebec: 128

Pandemic 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