Ottawa Inuit should get vaccinated, respected leader says

Protect yourself, protect others: Mary Simon

Inuit leader Mary Simon receives her COVID-19 vaccine from the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team in Ottawa. (Photo courtesy of Akausivik)

By Jim Bell

One of Canada’s most distinguished Inuit leaders is urging Ottawa Inuit to get a COVID-19 vaccination from the Inuit-run Akausivik centre in Ottawa.

“By protecting yourself and others, it means we will get over this pandemic,” Simon said in a video message released Wednesday.

The Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team, in partnership with Ottawa Public Health, has been offering vaccines to Inuit living in Ottawa and other parts of Ontario since Feb. 17.

Under the Ontario government’s vaccine rollout plan, all Indigenous adults living in the province are getting top priority, and the province hopes all of them will get a first dose of vaccine by the end of this month.

But Simon, who recently received a vaccination at Akausivik, said in her message that a lot of Inuit who live in Ottawa may not know that Akausivik now offers COVID-19 vaccinations.

And she said she’s come across quite a few people in the Ottawa community who don’t feel they need to get a vaccination, perhaps because they think they’re already immune.

For that reason, she said it’s important that Inuit reach out to family and friends and encourage them to get their COVID-19 shot.

“I talk to them about it. Even in my family, I say that if you get the vaccine, it will protect you in the long term and, as well, it will protect others,” she said.

The Akausivik vaccine clinic is located at 24 Selkirk St. in Vanier and is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

To book an appointment, call Akausivik at 613-740-0999.

Simon is a former diplomat who served as the Canadian ambassador to Denmark and Canadian ambassador for circumpolar affairs.

She has also served as president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Inuit Circumpolar Council, and is a former chancellor of Trent University.

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