IMPORTANT UPDATE: Community-Wide Vaccination Coming to Neyaashiinigmiing

We have been advised by Grey Bruce Public Health that approximately 7000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Pfizer will be delivered to Grey Bruce in the second half of February. Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are required for full immunity, several weeks apart. These large vaccine shipments will be used to give the initial vaccination to residents and caregivers in long-term care homes, hospital staff, retirement homes and staff, and to vaccinate all residents of Neyaashiinigmiing and Saugeen First Nation.

Indigenous communities have been identified as high-priority communities for vaccinations by all levels of government. We know that everyone wants the potentially life-saving vaccination. With the planned shipments of the Pfizer vaccine to Grey Bruce, we are hopeful that we can have the great majority of the community vaccinated in the coming weeks.

Our next COVID-19 vaccination clinic is tentatively scheduled for February 11, 2021. This date is based on the best available information, but it may change before the day. We will update the public as soon as we receive more or different advice. If you live in Neyaashiinigmiing, the Health Centre will invite you to receive the vaccine when it is your turn. We will advise Neyaashiinigmiing residents if an open vaccination clinic for all residents is planned.

While we wait for a vaccination, and even after we are vaccinated, until full immunity is realized, we must be patient and stay safe. All residents must continue to follow the COVID-19 safety protocols:

  • Wear a mask outside your home and keep it on.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Stay at least 2 meters from people that you don’t live with.

Chippewas of Nawash Continues Second HelloFresh Meal Program

This is a reminder to all members that the HelloFresh food support program is still open. If you haven’t taken advantage of this great benefit, apply today!

The COVID-19 pandemic has lasted longer than most of us expected and the Council understands that the crisis has increased the stress on all households. Whether members are struggling due to lack of employment, worry about the health risks of simply shopping for groceries, or have mobility limitations that are made more challenging by lockdown orders, we know it can be hard to put good food on the table.

The Council increased the resources of the Nawash Food Bank significantly when the COVID-19 pandemic began, so that it could better serve the Neyaashiinigmiing community. We are continuing to support our local food bank, but also know that our members outside Neyaashiinigmiing are working hard to feed their families too. To help, the Council is offering off-reserve member households meal boxes from HelloFresh Canada, the meal subscription service. HelloFresh packages meal ingredients and recipes into one convenient box and delivers them directly to your home.

We also want to specifically support our youth, who have been so greatly impacted by the pandemic. The Chippewas of Nawash Board of Education, Kikendaasogamig Elementary School, Journey Together and Healthy Living programs are collaborating with the Nawash HelloFresh Program to give our youth and scholar members the simple joy of good, healthy family meals, wherever they live.

Applicants to the new Nawash HelloFresh Program must be a Chippewas of Nawash Band Member, living in Canada. Under the new rules, your household is eligible if:

  • Your primary residence is off-reserve. You do not live in Neyaashiinigmiing.

    -OR-

  • You live in Neyaashiinigmiing AND your household includes a youth member of Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, up to 18 years old, or a member enrolled full-time in secondary or post-secondary school.

Visit the Nawash HelloFresh page for more information on the program and application instructions.

Neyaashiinigmiing COVID-19 Update

In response to the ongoing pandemic, the Council has decided to extend the Neyaashiinigmiing State of Emergency until February 28th. Under the State of Emergency, the Council has been able to take extraordinary actions to keep the community safe.

We have limited access to the community by closing one of our two entrances and setting up a monitoring station at the other. While it is impossible to say what might have happened without these actions, the Council feels that reducing the level of outside traffic in Neyaashiinigmiing has helped our community avoid the worst of the pandemic.

We have also extended the operations of our Food Bank. The Food Bank has received significantly more funds since the beginning of the pandemic and is able to serve all community members. With more space required for the additional foodstuffs and supplies, the Food Bank has also been allowed to operate out the Community Centre, at least until the end of March, 2021.

COVID-19 vaccines are finally being distributed in Grey Bruce, although only in small amounts. The supply of authorized vaccines is severely constrained around the world. We expect that we will receive small batches in intervals from the federal and provincial health ministries. We don’t have a long-term schedule for when we will receive batches of vaccine. We do know that it will be many months before we have enough community members vaccinated that we can begin relaxing the protocols that have kept us safe all this time.

Vaccinations are being given according to priorities set by the federal and provincial health ministries. COVID-19 is highly contagious and requires significant care for those that become seriously ill. The virus threatens to overwhelm regional health care providers if it spreads too quickly. The goal of the vaccination priority order is to reduce the spread of the virus and protect the health system so that we can care for those that do get ill.

Health workers will receive vaccinations first, as well as vulnerable people who live or provide care in what are called “congregate settings”. That just means a multi-resident apartment or facility. Congregate settings are considered more risky because if one person in the building catches the virus, there could be a large number of people exposed. Our Seniors Apartment Complex is an example of a congregate setting. On the other hand, an individual or small family living in their own house may be just as vulnerable to COVID-19, or even more, but there is less chance of many people falling ill if one member of a single household catches the virus.

Our next COVID-19 vaccination clinic is tentatively scheduled for February 11, 2021. This date is based on the best available information, but it may change before the day. We will update the public as soon as we receive more or different advice. If you live in Neyaashiinigmiing, the Health Centre will invite you to receive the vaccine when it is your turn. At this time, we will not be holding an open vaccination clinic for all residents.

We know that everyone wants the potentially life-saving vaccination and we are doing everything we can to get more vaccine in the community. Indigenous communities have been identified as high-priority communities for vaccinations by all levels of government. The limitation at this point is simply the amount of time it takes to manufacture and deliver the vaccines. While the manufacturers ramp up their production, we must be patient and stay safe by following our protocols:

  • Wear a mask outside your home and keep it on.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Stay at least 2 meters from people that you don’t live with.

 

Statement from Chief Nadjiwon

Chief Greg Nadjiwon has produced a video statement to the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation membership. In this video, the Chief discusses the welcome start of COVID-19 vaccinations in the community, and other measures being taken to keep the community safe during the pandemic. He also touches on economic development and his wish that the membership become involved.

Watch the Chief’s address on YouTube.

Nawash Health Staff Administer First COVID-19 Vaccinations

We are pleased to inform the membership that the Nawash Health Centre held our first COVID-19 vaccination clinic today at the Maadookii Centre. We received 30 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which were allocated to residents of the Seniors Apartment Complex. Today, residents received the first dose of the two-part vaccination process. The recipients will return for the second, booster shot of the vaccine after 28 days.

Berdina Johnston, Elder and former Community Health Nurse, receives the COVID-19 vaccination.

Nobody is considered immune after receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or even after their second dose. It takes another 10 to 14 days after the booster shot to develop full immunity to COVID-19. Even vaccinated persons should continue to observe all pandemic health and safety guidelines, including wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, and staying at least 2 meters away from people you don’t live with.

We will be advised by Grey Bruce Public Health when more vaccine is available. Currently, demand for COVID-19 vaccines is far greater than the available supply and we cannot reliably predict when we will receive more vaccine doses. Provincial and federal health authorities are manage the distribution of vaccines around the country. We expect that notice of a vaccine delivery will likely be short, so we will remain ready to hold future clinics as soon as possible.

Paul Lavalley receives his shot from Community Health Nurse, SpringDawn Cook-Akiwenzie.

We know that most people are eager to receive a vaccination. We are doing all we can to vaccinate as many residents and staff as quickly as we can, but our Health staff and administration do not control how much vaccine we receive, or how the vaccine is to be allocated. The Health staff, in collaboration with the Grey Bruce Public Health unit, implement the vaccine priorities set by the Federal and Provincial health ministries.

The Federal and Provincial health ministries have planned a phased roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines that addresses the most vulnerable populations first, as well as those situations where the virus is most likely to spread.

Phase One: January – March

During Phase One, vaccines will be prioritized to long-term care and retirement home residents, essential caregivers and staff; Indigenous communities and populations; healthcare workers; and chronic home care recipients.

Phase Two: April – July

During Phase Two, vaccines will be prioritized to older adults, beginning with those 80 and older, and decreasing in 5-year increments as the groups are vaccinated; people who live and work in high-use settings with other people; frontline essential workers, including first responders, teachers and other education staff and the food processing industry; individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers; and other populations who are at greater COVID-19 risk.

Phase Three: August and beyond

During the final Phase, remaining Ontarians in the general population who wish to be vaccinated will receive the vaccine.

We recommend that every resident get a COVID-19 vaccination when it is offered to your category.

Council Extends Neyaashiinigmiing Pandemic Shutdown

In order to remain in sync with the provincial pandemic restrictions, and to keep the community as safe as possible, the Council has decided to extend the administrative shutdown in Neyaashiinigmiing until February 11, 2021. Non-essential Administrative programs and offices will remain closed until that time.

The Council is doing everything it can to keep the Neyaashiinigmiing community safe and healthy until a vaccine is widely available to residents. We will continue to work tirelessly for the good of the membership, residents and staff during this challenging time.

The Administrative shutdown will be reassessed weekly. We are grateful for the patience, support and strength of the entire Neyaashiinigmiing community while we wait out the pandemic. We will come back strong in the year ahead.

Update: Vaccinations Delayed in Grey Bruce

We have learned from Dr. Ian Arra, the Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health that the vaccines scheduled to arrive on January 25th have been delayed, due to production issues. The first vaccinations are expected to arrive in mid-February and will be reserved for the most vulnerable. A portion of the initial Grey Bruce allotment will still be earmarked for the residents of Neyaashiinigmiing’s Seniors Apartment Complex. No date or estimate has been given at this time for the next batch of vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccines have been extensively tested around the world in many different populations. They have been shown to be safe, and remarkably effective. Watch this video to learn more about vaccine safety.

We share the community’s disappointment at this delay. The sooner we are all safely vaccinated, the sooner we can put the pandemic and its trials behind us. We will share more information about when residents can get a vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

 

First Vaccinations Scheduled for Neyaashiinigmiing

We have been advised by Dr. Ian Arra, the Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health, that the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered to Grey Bruce on January 25, 2021. Vaccinations for priority groups will start shortly after the vaccine arrives.

The first recipients in Neyaashiinigmiing will be residents of the Seniors Apartment Complex, which is being regarded as a long-term care facility for the purposes of vaccine distribution. We expect those residents to be vaccinated in the last week of January. Residents of the community who are 70 years and older, not living in the Seniors Apartment Complex, will be vaccinated in the next round of vaccinations, expected in mid-February.

Unfortunately, supplies of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines remain limited worldwide. While a vaccination will be available for everyone eventually, lower priority groups will have to wait for their dose until supply and distribution lines catch up.

Until we are all safely vaccinated, our best strategy remains careful following of the pandemic health and safety guidelines:

  • Wear a mask outside your home.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Watch your distance. Remain at least 2 meters from people you do not live with.

Thank you to all our members, residents and staff for your patience, courage and strength during this difficult time. We look forward to seeing you all again, in person, when the pandemic has passed.

COVID-19 Vaccines Coming Soon

COVID-19 vaccines will be coming soon to Grey Bruce. The amount of vaccine available is limited, so those that are particularly at risk will be given priority for the first shots.

A portion of the first batch of vaccine is reserved for Neyaashiinigmiing as well. Planning is underway to vaccinate our most vulnerable residents. As of this writing, the exact date that the vaccine will be available, and the amount of vaccinations that can be given has not been confirmed. We do expect it within weeks, not months, and there will be enough for those residents most at risk.

Most of us will have to wait some time before sufficient vaccine is available for all of us to receive a shot.

The two vaccines currently authorized for use in Canada have undergone extensive testing worldwide. They have been found safe and effective by numerous governments and medical agencies internationally, including the World Health Organization. You can learn more about the vaccines approved for use in Canada here.

The Chief and Council and Community Emergency Response Group have no concerns about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. They will protect us and our relations. They will bring this challenging time to a close and let us open our doors to family and friends again. To slow and eventually stop the spread of the virus, everybody that can be vaccinated, should be vaccinated.

If you have any questions regarding the vaccine, please contact your doctor, or the Nawash Health Centre at 519-534-0373.

Ontario Declares Second State of Emergency

In response to the crisis of rising COVID-19 cases in Ontario, the Province has declared a second state of emergency. For the duration of the emergency, the colour-coded zone system will be paused.

Per the Ontario government website:

“Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for permitted  purposes or activities, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for work where the work cannot be done remotely. This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people’s mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings for these purposes, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.”

“In response to the alarming and exceptional circumstances at hand, and to further interrupt the deadly trend of transmission in Ontario communities, hospitals, and long-term care homes, the following additional public health measures will take effect January 13, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. This is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
  • Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres.
  • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.”

The state of emergency is being supported by legal authority granted to provincial officers.

“The province will provide authority to all provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors in places open to the public”.

The Chief, Council, Nawash Health Centre, Community Emergency Response Group and the rest of the administration is doing everything we can to keep the community safe until we can vaccinate our most vulnerable. We urge all Neyaashiinigmiing residents, and all of our members living in Ontario, to follow current COVID-19 safety guidelines and any health and safety orders. Keep yourselves, your relations, your neighbours and your communities safe and healthy.

We will update the membership with more information as we receive it.