The Dene Nation is urging Dene peoples to consider getting vaccinated against COVID-19, with outbreaks and variants of concern on the rise.
The statement comes as the GNWT has recently released data showing low levels of vaccine uptake in many regions.
National Chief Norman Yakeleya says after one of the hardest years emotionally, mentally, and economically across Denendeh, things are so close to emerging back into a sense of normal.
“Despite how close it feels, we know that in order to return to normal we will need the majority of our people to be vaccinated to create the effect of herd immunity,” he said.
Yakeleya says across the NWT where vaccines have been prioritized for Indigenous populations, it is clear that greater education, information, and access must be provided in order to increase uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.
“We know that these vaccines are safe and they are our best defense against COVID-19, but we need to make sure that information is reaching our people effectively,” he adds.
Recent data released from the GNWT is showing that some regions are arming themselves with vaccines at higher rates than others.
“Sadly, according to the data, regions densely populated by Dene peoples are showing much lower levels of vaccine uptake,” says Yakeleya.
Presently, Tłı̨chǫ has the lowest rate of injected doses, currently at 36 per cent. In DehCho, 32 percent of eligible adults have not received their vaccine, and in Sahtu the number is even higher at 46 per cent.
“Modern medicines, such as the COVID-19 vaccine, in relationship with our traditional teachings and our ancestors prayers, will work together to protect us. I armed myself with the vaccine after seeking credible information from trusted resources, such as Health Canada and our Elders,” continued Yakeleya.
Yakeyela concluded the statement asking Dene to seek credible information with a good mind and to consider arming themselves with a vaccine as soon as possible.