Elders at Indigenous retirement home in Toronto receive COVID-19 vaccine

Earlier this week, residents and community members of Wigwamen Terrace, an Indigenous retirement home in Toronto, received COVID-19 vaccinations. 

“It was an amazing day; to us it was like history in the making,” said Harvey Manning, director of programs and services at Anishnawbe Health Toronto. 

“It’s a really important initiative and it’s the first vaccine that rolled out for Indigenous communities in Toronto.”

The Anishnawbe Health Mobile Healing Unit delivered the Moderna vaccinations Tuesday with the support of Women’s College Hospital.

Elders and residents of Wigwamen Terrace line up for their vaccinations. (Nadya Kwandibens/Red Works Photography)


Some of the elders and residents who had the chance to receive the vaccine cried according to Manning, who said that he believes the vaccine will be life-changing for some, giving hope for the future. 

The day prior to the vaccine delivery, Anishnawbe Health Toronto went to Wigwamen Terrace to speak with the residents and have them sign consent forms to receive the shot. 

Tanner Tootoosis, assistant general manager of Wigwamen, said the retirement home currently has 91 residents, because some of the other residents who were there were taken back to their home communities by family. 

Elders and community members of Wigwamen Terrace in Toronto received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday. (Nadya Kwandibens/Red Works Photography)

Twenty-three residents declined the vaccine. 

Anishnawbe Health Toronto will be returning to Wigwamen Terrace to give residents their second doses on Feb. 9.

“That would also provide an opportunity, we’re hoping, for others who didn’t get it the first time,” said Tootoosis. 

The Mobile Healing Unit began providing services like COVID-19 testing in June, along with primary health care, addictions and mental health support and rapid access to housing. 

Joe Hester, executive director of Anishnawbe Health Toronto, said they have done about 8,000 tests.

He added that Anishnawbe Health Toronto is planning to add another mobile unit that will focus on vaccination services.

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