Today the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba (CHFM) have partnered to help fight COVID-19 in Manitoba’s First Nations population by supplying 30,000 face masks as well as making them available to all children visiting the HSC Children’s Hospital Emergency Department.
The AMC has donated $75,000 to the CHFM in order to help support First Nation children’s health needs. The Foundation has used a portion of these funds to produce a mask to be delivered by AMC to member First Nations and CHFM will supply to any child and their families requiring care at the Children’s Hospital Emergency Department who may need one.
Currently First Nations people are most likely to be infected through close contact from a known case of COVID-19. This is due to a myriad of socio-economic factors such as overcrowded housing, lack of essential water infrastructure to sanitize homes and hands, lack of access to quality health care - all of which have put First Nation communities at higher risk of spread of the coronavirus because it is more difficult to isolate appropriately within the home.
“These masks are a welcome support at a time when our communities are seeing rising numbers of COVID-19 cases,” says AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas. “First Nations people continue to make up a highly disproportionate number of new cases in Manitoba. The 5-day test positivity rate remains significantly higher than the rest of the province. It is critical that we are diligent with following the protective public health measures – like wearing multilayered face masks - to reduce the impacts as much as we can. This collaboration demonstrates how our community is working together and enlisting the help of Dr. Goodbear and Spirit Bear to put a smile on the faces of children during these difficult times as we try to keep kids safer and healthier.”
The masks which will be distributed in the coming weeks are 3-ply and have a removeable filter for an additional fourth layer of protection. The exterior design represents the colours of a First Nations medicine wheel and includes two bears: Jordan’s Principle Spirit Bear, and the Children’s Hospital Foundation Dr. Goodbear; both logos are symbols of strength, health, family and courage.
Jordan's Principle, named in memory of Jordan River Anderson from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba, ensures that all First Nations children living on and off reserve in Canada have equitable access to services and supports they need, when they need them.
Stefano Grande, President and CEO of Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba says this support in recognition of Jordan’s Principle is part of the collaborative efforts the community needs to #continuecaringforkids. “We exist so our community can offer the best care and support to sick and injured children. We believe this support right now to First Nations in Manitoba is absolutely vital to the current and future health of First Nation children.”
“We thank AMC and all members of our Indigenous Advisory Council for guiding us to determine this area of urgent need and we will continue to collaborate for better health of children across the province, and in support of reconciliation efforts that are important to our Foundation,” says Dean Schinkel, Chair of CHFM.
The CHFM Indigenous Advisory Circle is a volunteer council that has been in place since early 2020 and supports the mandate of the Board of CHFM through the provision of information and meaningful advice, within an Indigenous perspective and worldview; allowing CHFM to build deep, meaningful and collaborative relationships with Indigenous leadership to improve the health of children, and at HSC Winnipeg Children’s Hospital through engagement, research, advocacy and fundraising:
“I am appreciative that Children’s Hospital Foundation is working closely with Indigenous advisors and have developed these masks for the First Nations communities. It is especially important that the community see the alignment of Jordan’s Principle and Children’s Hospital Foundation as both work to do the best for our youth. I look forward to working together further to support the health care needs of our communities now and for the future,” says Rebecca Chartrand, Vice President Indspire and Chairperson of CHFM Indigenous Advisory Circle.
AMC will distribute twenty thousand masks to First Nations in Manitoba and ten thousand masks will be supplied by CHFM to Children’s Hospital Emergency Department.