By Peter Moon
Canadian Rangers have provided support for a medical team that administered second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in Peawanuck, a remote Cree First Nation near the Hudson Bay coast.
The doses make the Weenusk First Nation the first of 31 across the Far North of Ontario to get the second of the two shots required by the Moderna vaccine. The community got its first doses on January 26. Peawanuck is the small settlement in Weenusk First Nation.
The vaccine shots were given yesterday by paramedics from the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, which is working with Ornge, the province’s air ambulance service, to administer the vaccine to 31 First Nations across the Far North of Ontario.
“We worked with the local vaccination team to set up the vaccination facilities in the community hall,” said Sergeant Matthew Gull, commander of the Peawanuck Ranger patrol. “We provided translation, transport for elders who needed it to get from their homes to the community hall, and one Ranger did data entry for the medical team.
“It was minus 30 without the windchill this morning when the medical team landed at the airport and some of the elders needed help in those temperatures to get to the community hall.”
He said some in the community of about 280 remain nervous about the Covid crisis. “Some of them are still nervous because of the number of people who have tested positive in Moose Factory and Moosonee, to our south,” he said. “So they’re glad to have their second shot. I was glad to get mine.”
“It’s starting to come full circle,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur, the Canadian Army officer who commands the Rangers, who are part-time army reservists, in Northern Ontario. “It’s going to be great to see the other First Nations getting their second shots. Peawanuck got great support from its Rangers and the same Ranger support will be there for the other First Nations as they get their second doses.
“We expect to have 120 to 130 Rangers involved in those second doses getting out.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)