Pop-up vaccination clinics for Métis in Saskatoon and Prince Albert

Métis Nation–Saskatchewan holds vaccine clinic and awareness campaign

Métis Nation Government of Saskatchewan Minister of Health Marg Friesen. Photo courtesy of MN-S

The Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN–S) Government held vaccine clinics in Saskatoon and Prince Albert this week as part of its “Vaccinated Métis Strong” campaign. 

MN–S partnered with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to hold a special pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic on April 23rd and 24th at the new MN–S building downtown Saskatoon set to open later in 2021. Just over 280 vaccines were administered over two days. 

Clinics were also held in Prince Albert on Friday in partnership with the Prince Albert Grand Council. MN-S Health Minister Marg Friesen said she wants to further community engagement and raise awareness for easily accessible and culturally safe vaccination sites. 

“We’re encouraging people to be vaccinated to protect themselves and their families and communities from the transmission of COVID. Of course, or contracting the disease. The vaccine is going to assist the broader community in hopefully eliminating the spread of COVID-19 or the variants,” Friesen said.

“It’s not the original COVID-19 virus that we’re dealing with now, it’s all variants of the virus. So that’s really concerning, because the facts behind that are alarming. Specifically in Indigenous populations where we have immunocompromised, and high risk individuals. 

“We want to see people vaccinated and protected, as opposed to more people being hospitalized in the ICU, or losing their life to COVID.”

Beginning with the eldest MN–S citizens in Saskatoon and continuing down, Métis citizens 50 years and older were offered an appointment if they hadn’t already been vaccinated. SHA staff administered vaccines to citizens at specific appointment times, ensuring that operations were safe.

The MN–S Government said it has also been working hard to establish partnerships with other Indigenous governments and culturally safe access to vaccination opportunities such as the Regina Urban Indigenous Vaccine Clinic and the Central Saskatchewan Indigenous Vaccination Sites in Saskatoon, North Battleford, and Prince Albert.

“Partnerships in vaccination clinics show that everyone can work together for what is important for our Métis community,” MN–S President Glen McCallum said. 

“The high interest in the appointments shows how important vaccinations are to our Métis citizens and communities. I am happy I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination and encourage everyone to get immunized.’”

A Métis Elder opened the first clinic in Saskatoon with a traditional prayer, and those vaccinated will receive proper personal protective equipment for their visit, bannock, and a ‘Vaccinated Métis Strong’ button.

Ulrich Venne was onsite this morning receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“I encourage all the Métis people to come and get their vaccination,” Venne said.

Verna McCallum also received her immunization today.

“It’s a big relief, I feel better to hang around my dad now because he got a shot too, so I feel good now after,” McCallum  said.

Friesen said she hopes that as many citizens as possible get vaccinated and show their support through word of mouth and social media.

“The Métis Nation–Saskatchewan Government is working with the SaskatchewanHealth Authority to help our citizens access the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible,” Freisen said. 

“We want our Métis communities to have health services that are culturally respectful and accessible. This pop-up clinic is an example of what we can do. We hope to see all partners come together so that other culturally safe clinics for the Métis community can happen across the province.”

She’s proud to support immunization services that keep the province healthy and safe. She said interest in vaccine appointments at this clinic was so high that all available times were booked before the call for interest could go wider.