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Ontario invests $37M in Indigenous community’s response to COVID-19

Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory declares a state of emergency and accompanying travel ban

The province has announced $37.8 million in funding to support Indigenous communities and people in their planning, prevention and mitigation efforts as part of Ontario’s COVID-19 response.

In this area, Ogimee and Council officially declared a state of emergency for the community of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on April 6 and with it a travel ban effective April 9.

Both Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and Wahnapitae First Nation have closed their borders to visitors to limit the spread of the virus.

“Indigenous communities face unique challenges in planning for and tackling the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs, in a press release. 

“We are working closely with Indigenous leaders and making critical investments to ensure Indigenous people and communities have the necessary tools and supports in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The province is earmarking:

  • $16.4 million from the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs to provide emergency funds for food, household goods, critical supplies, transportation, support and care, responsive services and support for urban Indigenous people, self-isolation facilities in remote and northern communities, prevention and awareness efforts and pandemic planning;
  • $10 million from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services to support 
  • Indigenous communities and agencies in responding to the needs of vulnerable children, families and elders;
  • $7.4 million from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to help social service providers, charities and non-profits delivering critical housing services to Indigenous people living off-reserve, and; 
  • $4 million from the Ministry of Transportation to ensure continued service to remote and northern airports, enabling essential goods and services to continue reaching isolated communities.

Aside from funding, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) will be working with Indigenous communities hoping to enact their own measures related to the outbreak, including consideration of requests for the full or partial closures of the 26 remote MTO airports.

The province of Ontario has said it will also be working with the Indigenous businesses community to determine how to address the impacts of COVID-19 on the local economy and those it employs.


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