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

While active cases of COVID-19 have remained relatively stable in First Nations and Inuit communities of the past few months, new infections persist according to the latest data from Indigenous Services Canada.

340,860 vaccine doses administered in First Nations and Inuit communities

Kanesatake's vaccination clinic was open last week to members of Pakua Shipi, Unamen Shipu, Nutashkuan, Ekuanitshit, Uashat mak Mani-utenam, Pessamit, Essipit, Mashteuiatsh and Matimekush Lac-John. (Submitted by Kanesatake Emergency Response Unit)

While the number of active cases of COVID-19 has remained relatively stable in First Nations and Inuit communities for the past few months, new infections persist, according to the latest data from Indigenous Services Canada.

There were 736 active cases in First Nations as of April 19, an increase of 70 from a week prior according to the federal department.

The majority of new infections were reported in Manitoba with 213 cases reported in the last week including outbreaks in Chemawawin Cree Nation and Bunibonibee Cree Nation. Fisher River Cree Nation says it has been informed by public health officials that there is one positive case of the B117 variant first detected in the U.K.

As of April 20, the Government of Nunavut is reporting two active cases in Kinngait and 28 active cases in Iqaluit. For the third week in a row, there were zero active cases reported in the Nunavik region of Quebec.

Since the pandemic began, there have been a total of 26,239 cases in First Nations communities. A total of 305 people have died from the virus; seven of those deaths were reported in the last week. The total number of hospitalizations has risen to 1,167. The number of First Nations people who have recovered from the disease is now at 25,198.

Total cases in First Nations communities per region reported as of April 19:

  • British Columbia: 2,938
  • Alberta: 7,501
  • Saskatchewan: 6,445
  • Manitoba: 6,894
  • Ontario: 1,763
  • Quebec: 688
  • Atlantic: 10

Vaccine distribution

As of April 20, a total of 340,860 vaccine doses have been administered in 654 First Nations and Inuit communities, including more than 78,242 second doses.

Read more about the vaccination efforts taking place in Kanesatake, Que., Kahnawake, Que., Thunder Bay, Ont., and Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation, Man.:

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 or lost a loved one to COVID-19. If you would like to share your story, please email us at