Thunder Bay, ON - The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) proudly announces that our Mindimooyenh Vaccination Clinic has administered more than 10,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the urban Indigenous community in Thunder Bay. Indigenous women planned and organized these mass clinics in under one week as we had a collective goal of vaccinating our community and ensuring that we included our culture and traditional teachings through the entire process.
The evaluations received from the thousands of people have overwhelmingly been extremely positive as people reflected on the wholistic approach to support not only their physical health but also their spiritual and mental health during a time a need.
One young mother shared her experience at the clinic: “My daughter is thrilled to have received her first vaccine and I don’t think that I could have asked for a more kind and pleasant experience than what we received. It might sound weird to say that we’re looking forward to coming to get our second doses but I’m pretty sure we’ll be happily heading there in a few weeks to see all the faces that I know were smiling behind those masks.”
In Ojibwe “Mindimooyenh” means “one who holds the world together”. It is a term that embodies Indigenous women’s responsibilities, recognizing the pivotal role and hard-earned wisdom (regarding life’s passages, such as contending with sickness and disease) that they exercise within their families and communities. As the oldest and largest Indigenous women’s organization in Canada, ONWA has been proud to play a leadership role in this initiative to meet community needs.
“I am honoured to have witnessed the determination of the Indigenous community and our hardworking dedicated staff who worked two jobs to support the Mindimooyenh clinic week after week. Their commitment to saving lives while bringing the comfort of our culture to the community during this difficult, stressful time was outstanding. Against the backdrop of a colonial system determined to dictate their wants and needs we stood our ground on the frontline providing solutions by Indigenous people for Indigenous people. We have so much to be proud of in the crucial work achieved behind the countless masks, PPE and important safety guidelines.” – Cora McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director (ONWA)
The Mindimooyenh Vaccination Clinic began March 9, 2021, in partnership with Dilico Anishinabek Family Care and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. ONWA would also like to acknowledge additional partners who assisted with sharing vaccinators Beendigen Inc, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and Anishinawbe Mushkiki Aboriginal Health Access Centre.
As of June 23, 2021, the Mindimooyenh Vaccination Clinic will be wrapping up regular operations. ONWA continues to offer programs and services that meet the needs of the urban Indigenous community during COVID-19 and working towards creating healing and supportive services.
Community members in Thunder Bay who still need access to their second dose are encouraged to contact the Thunder Bay District Health Unit for referral support at https://www.tbdhu.com/
For more information:
Andre Morriseau, Communications Manager
Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA)