The federal government will deploy the Canadian military to help First Nations communities in Manitoba accelerate the pace of the COVID-19 immunization campaign, federal officials said Thursday.
Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), in partnership with First Nations, will support plans to vaccinate all adults – about 50,000 people in total – in up to 23 on-reserve communities, federal officials announced in a press release.
Overall, Manitoba First Nations leaders are hoping to vaccinate 100,000 people in all 63 First Nations communities in 100 days.
“This is truly a team endeavor – led by Indigenous community leaders, and supported by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Indigenous Services Canada, the province of Manitoba, the Canadian Armed Forces, and other partners,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a statement.
“Together, we will make sure that residents’ needs are met, and that local leaders are well-supported in their efforts against COVID-19.”
A number of remote Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba have been hit hard by COVID-19 outbreaks and requested urgent assistance from the federal government.
The military’s assistance in northern Manitoba comes under the auspices of Operation VECTOR, the CAF’s logistical mission to help federal, provincial and territorial governments across Canada with the delivery and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
The military plans to deploy one of its CC-130 Hercules transport planes, up to two CH-147 Chinook medium lift helicopters, up to two light transport CC-138 Twin Otter planes, logistical vehicles, and about 200 soldiers.
The troops will provide medical assistance, help with the administration of COVID-19 vaccines; provide logistical support, including the establishment of COVID-19 vaccination clinics; assisting with transportation needs; and coordinating the delivery of goods and supplies, officials said.
This mission is set to run until June 30.