Campaign aims to share Indigenous youth's journeys to COVID-19 vaccination

A campaign encouraging Indigenous youth to share their COVID-19 vaccination journey launched last week, with a chance to receive a pair of Nike Air Jordans.

Youth who enter videos eligible to receive Air Jordan sneakers

Chayce Taylor, 13, says he hopes his video for My Vaxx Journey inspires other Indigenous youth to get vaccinated if they haven't already. (Submitted by Kody Taylor)

A campaign encouraging Indigenous youth to share their COVID-19 vaccination journey launched last week, with a chance to receive a pair of Nike Air Jordans.

The campaign is a partnership of the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) and the National Indigenous Youth Working Group on Vaccine Uptake.

Edmonton resident Chayce Taylor, 13, from Berens River First Nation in Manitoba, submitted a video about his experience getting vaccinated. It was shared Friday on the My Vaxx Journey social pages. 

Taylor said he was inspired to get vaccinated to help save lives, and hopes his video helps others do the same. 

"If you could, you should get it," Taylor said.

"It could help protect you and save your life and protect the people around you." 

Taylor said the pandemic has been lonely for him. 

"I wasn't able to see my family in Manitoba for over a year, so, in my opinion, it was one of the worst years of my life," he said. 

He doesn't know yet when he'll receive a pair of shoes, but said he'll be really excited when he does. 

John Paillé, NAFC project co-ordinator, said the campaign hopes to give youth a chance to share their voice.

"Giving youth the opportunity to speak on issues that directly affect them, having them speak on their experiences getting vaccinated and the choices they're making to get vaccinated is an important project we were willing to support," Paillé said.

Funding for the campaign came from Indigenous Services Canada's COVID-19 Indigenous Community Support Fund. 

As long as the videos adhere to guidelines, each eligible applicant will be able to receive a pair of shoes until they run out or until the campaign's end date on March 31. 

The campaign aims to increase vaccine uptake in eligible youths aged 12-29. 

As of Feb. 8, according to Indigenous Services Canada over 86 per cent of people in First Nations and Inuit communities aged 12 and older are double vaccinated. Over 23 per cent have received a third dose.

Collaboration crossing borders

Limited edition Nike Air Jordans became a part of the giveaway through a community connection. 

Conrad Prince, originally from Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, is the national director for the national reconciliation program at Save the Children Canada. He was working with another youth group in Toronto around vaccine uptake when he was connected to the My Vaxx Journey campaign.

An example of the style of shoe up for grabs with the giveaway. There are four colours to choose from. (Submitted by Conrad Prince)

Prince pitched the campaign to friend and fellow Canadian Chris Gibbs, who designed the shoes with his streetwear company Union Los Angeles. Gibbs donated 150 pairs of shoes.

Gibbs identifies as Afro-Caribbean, so he says he understands the need to help marginalized communities.

"Especially through the lens of young people, this kind of sought-after commodity that might maybe incentivize a young Indigenous youth to take that extra step," he said.

"I tried to do my best to help in any way that I could."

Métis-owned design company

Indigenous-led company Vincent Designs based in Winnipeg was approached to create the campaign's messaging through stories. 

Images like this were created by Vincent Designs for the campaign's marketing. (Submited by Vincent Designs)

"Storytelling's really important for Indigenous people," said Shaun Vincent, founder and creative director of Vincent Designs.

"So we thought what better way to promote vaccine, and to combat vaccine hesitancy with just actual stories of success and the reasons why the youth got vaccinated and the benefits of that."


Renée Lilley

Reporter, CBC Indigenous

Renée Lilley is a reporter for CBC Indigenous based in Winnipeg. She is a recipient of the CJF-CBC Indigenous Journalism Fellowship for 2022 and is a recent University of Winnipeg grad with a BA in rhetoric and communications. She has reported for radio and online news in her hometown of Portage la Prairie, Man. She is also a proud Métis mama of four girls.