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Three Saskatchewan First Nation organizations opening vaccination clinics in Saskatoon, PA, NB

Click to play video: 'Three Saskatchewan First Nations organizations opening vaccination clinics' Three Saskatchewan First Nations organizations opening vaccination clinics
WATCH: Three Indigenous-led vaccination clinics are opening in Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford – Apr 1, 2021

With COVID-19 numbers on the rise in Saskatchewan, three organizations representing First Nations are opening clinics to get people vaccinated.

One clinic opened Thursday at the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre in Prince Albert — run by the Prince Albert Grand Council — while two more are opening in Saskatoon and North Battleford later this month.

In November, legendary Saskatchewan hockey player Fred Sasakamoose died at 86, following a battle with the novel coronavirus.

Read more: Fred Sasakamoose leaves lasting legacy as Indigenous hockey pioneer

For his son, Neil, it’s been hard to grieve; he’s now helping get others vaccinated to process his pain.

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Sasakamoose, director of the Battlefords Agency Tribal Council, said the clinic opens April 12 at the Dekker Centre in North Battleford.

“What my father wanted us to all do was to be safe, don’t let anyone get hurt with this virus, respect it, but at the same time move on with our lives,” he said.

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Clinics open to everyone: STC

Along with the Prince Albert and North Battleford clinics, the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) is opening a vaccination clinic April 6 at SaskTel centre.

Chief Mark Arcand said it’s open to anyone, Indigenous or not.

“Our priority is First Nations and Métis people on the Indigenous side, just because of the social economic health concerns with First Nations people,” he said.

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The clinics are following public health orders, Arcand said, and will distribute vaccines by age like the rest of the province. Clinics will have Elders on site to help with language barriers, smudging, and to ease anyone’s anxiety.

Read more: More COVID-19 vaccination sites opening across Saskatchewan for 55+

Clinics are also offering transportation to Indigenous people who need them to get to their appointment.

For Sasakamoose, the clinics come as bittersweet after his father missed out.

“It’s tough to talk about,” he said.

“I’m hoping people can really listen to what some of the experience that I had, what other people that have lost people to this, what it really means.”

Arcand said he is concerned about growing cases in Regina and Moose Jaw.

Read more: Moose Jaw restaurant says Regina travel advisory is being ignored

“This is why we want to be proactive, to support the vaccination centre, to get as many people vaccinated as we can in a short period of time,” he said.

The clinics are being run in partnership with the province’s health authority and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), according to Sasakamoose. He said ISC is spending upwards of $3 million to run these three clinics for four months.

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