As an Indigenous woman, I have a sacred responsibility to do my part to protect all Manitobans; more specifically the most vulnerable in this pandemic. As a Member of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, I have a double responsibility to show and highlight the need for certain activities. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is one of them.
It’s important for everyone to get the vaccine, but as an Indigenous woman, it’s important to recognize that our Peoples are exponentially more at risk for transmission and increased risk for the very bad and heartbreaking consequences of COVID-19.
I, like so many Manitobans, haven’t seen my grandmother, Nan, in over a year. My grandmother lives in one of our personal care homes, and as such, I need to make sure I am protecting my grandmother and not put her at any undue risk of catching COVID-19.
I’m hoping, like every other Manitoban, that by getting the COVID-19 vaccine, I’ll get to visit my grandmother and extended family members. I know we’ve all missed our families and getting the vaccine will allow us to spend time together — very soon!
During the first wave of the pandemic, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous communities and Indigenous leadership led the way in keeping our communities safe. I want to acknowledge the leadership and every single member of every First Nation community that took things seriously and did the fundamentals. So many people didn’t see their grannie or their grampie, or stayed away from their community, which is really difficult for Indigenous Peoples as our communities are so close.
We know that in Indigenous communities, there is hesitancy to get the vaccine, for legitimate concerns and for longstanding, historical reasons. I would never judge anyone who has hesitancy, but I do trust the science.
Getting the vaccine is my small contribution to encourage the Indigenous community, and particularly my home community of Sagkeeng First Nation, to get vaccinated. I encourage people to do their research, make sure they’re separating facts from rumours and myths, and hopefully come around to get the vaccine.
If this global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how important family is. I think we’ve all really come to see, and know, and feel on a cellular level, how much we need our families and we need our friends. When we can take that small step and put that trust and faith in science, we can get back to our friends and families, and back to our lives.