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Canadian military will support COVID 19 effort in Manitoba’s north

March 26, 2021  By Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

The military will assist Northern Manitoba First Nations starting on Monday until June 30.

Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members will start deploying to Thompson on Thursday to establish the staging hub.

Initial communities identified for support include Nelson House (Nisichawayasik), Mathias Colomb (Pukatawagan), Island Lake (Garden Hill), Bunibonibee (Oxford House), and Brochet – Barren Lands.

“This CAF support was requested as the First Nations Leadership in Manitoba identified the possible devastating effects of a third wave during spring break-up and fire season, when fly-in First Nations could be particularly isolated and vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic,” said the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas in a release.


“Vaccination clinics will be set up by the CAF in each of the identified First Nations as appropriate and with all due care for cultural protocols and considerations, and will be part of the overall PRCT strategy for 100,000 vaccinations in 100 days for First Nations citizens in Manitoba.”

Last Friday, a CAF logistic planning team deployed to Thompson to conduct a detailed reconnaissance at the airfield of Thompson Municipal Airport to assess the establishment of a staging hub.

On Monday, CAF support commenced for liaison and planning officers to be embedded in the Integrated Vaccine Operations Centre (IVOC).

Military personnel will assist provincial authorities with tasks associated with the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine including embedding planners with the IVOC, along with the coordination and delivery of goods and supplies in the absence of commercial options.

Other responsibilities also include providing general and logistical support, including the establishment of COVID-19 vaccination clinics as well as assisting with transportation needs.

To support this effort, CAF will deploy one CC-130 Hercules aircraft up to two CH-147 Chinook helicopters, two CC-138 Twin Otters, logistical vehicles, and approximately 200 CAF members.

This will enable the military to surge the integrated inter-agency partner teams and meet the tailored needs of the supported communities.

“The CAF is supporting this collaborative effort with local Indigenous authorities, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), and Public Safety,” said a CAF spokesperson on Thursday.

“This support for vaccine roll-out is authorized through the Minister of National Defense under the auspices of Operation VECTOR, which is the CAF’s support to the Federal, Provincial, and Territorial governments for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.”

The spokesperson added that the CAF will carry out periodic assessments to ensure the scope of their support continues to meet the communities’ needs.

CAF personnel were previously seen in seven First Nations communities across the province to help manage COVID-19 outbreaks and facilitate vaccine distribution.

These communities were Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, Shamattawa First Nation, Pauingassi First Nation, Red Sucker Lake First Nation, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Garden Hill First Nation, and Cross Lake Band.

“A number of communities in Manitoba have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks,” said ISC Minister Marc Miller.

“I am proud and grateful for the CAF members who are working shoulder to shoulder with us to provide support at a time when communities need it most. I look forward to seeing more vaccines being administered in Manitoba thanks to the help of the CAF.”

Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.



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