By Dave Baxter
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
An organization that works to support Indigenous people in Winnipeg is hoping that an upcoming event will convince more citizens to get vaccinated, and give those who are vaccine hesitant credible and reliable information about COVID-19 vaccines.
The Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre will host a virtual roundtable event on Tuesday evening that they said would address vaccine hesitancy within the urban Indigenous community.
The event, according to the organization, will feature “an esteemed panel of health and science professionals” who will answer questions about vaccines and about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know our community has and continues to face barriers and hesitancies when accessing vaccines,” Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre communications manager Rosalyn Boucha said in a media release announcing the event.
“Many of us at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre faced those same uncertainties and fears throughout the pandemic, and that’s why we feel it so necessary to create opportunities for our families to connect with Indigenous health professionals and Elders from within our community.
Boucha said the event will be focused on giving information to people about vaccines so that they can make their own “informed decisions” on whether or not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and they also hope to dispel myths and misconceptions about vaccines.
“This event will be a safe space for families to ask questions directly, and we hope this will help put them at ease to make informed decisions,” she said.
Those who will make up the roundtable, which will be hosted by University of Manitoba professor Niigaan Sinclair, will include Dr.
Marcia Anderson, the public health lead for the First Nations pandemic response co-ordination team, Dr. Ryan Giroux, a Metis Nation of Alberta pediatrician, and Dr. Lisa Monkman, an Anishinaabe family physician based in Dauphin.
Knowledge Keeper Ed Azure from the University of Manitoba will also take part in the discussion.
According to the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, the event will kick off their new Protecting Our Future Project, which will work in the coming days and months to address COVID-19 myths and misconceptions by providing “accessible, culturally relevant, and science-backed information to the community in a safe and trusting way.”
“The hopeful outcomes will be people getting vaccinated to protect themselves, protect their people, and protect their future,” Boucha said.
The Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre said that anyone looking to get more information on how to take part in the virtual event can visit the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.
– Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.