Mobile vaccination clinic reaches hundreds of Indigenous Montrealers

Hannah Claus, who is Mohawk, gets the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners Friday, April 30, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

A mobile vaccination clinic has been deployed to inoculate Indigenous people in Montreal's urban areas against COVID-19.

The unit has been administering not just the vaccine but giving out a symbol of their clients origins in the form of traditional herbal medicine. The sachet of herbs was the idea of Montreal Autochtone, the organization that organized the clinic, in conjunction with the CIUSSS du Centre-sud-de-l'Ile-de-Montreal.

“It represents healing,” said Montreal Autochtone general manager Philippe Meilleur.

On Friday, Meilleur was at his organization's community centre, which had been converted into a special vaccination centre. The campaign has not only its own clinic but its own registration system.

“We are the organization that can reach Indigenous people,” he said.

The mobile clinic began circulating last week and has already vaccinated hundreds of people. Going mobile has several advantages, said regional health authority head of mobile vaccination Carole Gesseney.

“We try to provide a culturally appropriate service, within the walls of the organizations, because we know that Indigenous people have a mistrust of the health system,” she said. “With a tailor-made service, we try to reach as many people as possible.”

The CIUSSS “went to bat for us,” said Meilleur.  

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