December 4th, 2020
LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER: The Federal Government needs to step up its game to keep First Nations safe
Follows divisive comments made by Premier Pallister attacking First Nations
Dear Prime Minister,
Our region is in the grips of COVID-19 outbreaks. In Shamattawa First Nation, the COVID positivity rate is a shocking 50%. A few weeks ago at the McGillivary Care Home on Opaskwayak Cree Nation, every single resident got sick. Little Grand Rapids, York Factory, Cross Lake, The Pas; our region has been hit hard. We need leadership and decisive action.
Compounding this problem is the approach of the Manitoba government and the Premier, Mr. Pallister. Premier Pallister’s recent comments regarding First Nations and the vaccine are divisive and dangerous. He is refusing to acknowledge First Nations people who live in Manitoba as Manitobans. He is refusing to acknowledge the need for First Nations to receive the vaccine they need and deserve. The Premier’s comments have left people afraid.
In light of this situation, we truly need the Federal Government to step up. I am hearing from First Nations leaders that there is a lack of communication between the Federal government and First Nations in our region. First Nations in our region have reached out to me saying they have been left in the dark when it comes to vaccine delivery and COVID-19 pandemic responses in general. Many First Nations have made it clear, they are not equipped to transport and store vaccines, nor do they have the nurses or doctors capable to administer the vaccine. These serious concerns deserve a response and action from the Federal Government.
Based on need, First Nations in our region and Manitoba must be recognized as a priority for the vaccine.
I am calling on you as Prime Minister and on the Federal Government to work with First Nations to ensure they get the vaccine they need and deserve on a priority basis, and make certain that they are not the target of Pallister’s divisive agenda.
Lives are at stake.
MP Niki Ashton (Churchill--Keewatinook Aski)