An Indigenous vaccination clinic in Calgary is once again expanding its base to offer shots to youth and newcomers, who are now eligible under the province’s third phase of COVID-19 immunizations.
This latest expansion is the third time the vaccination clinic, launched by the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary and several partners, has grown to meet demand since its first clinic opened in March.
The first, smaller clinic catered to older Indigenous people living in the urban Calgary area.
The second, which opened in April, was much larger and offered shots to dozens more of the Indigenous population living in the Calgary area, based on expanded vaccine eligibility in the province.
Now, starting Monday and for the next four weeks, anyone over the age of 12 who is Indigenous, dealing with homelessness or is a newcomer, can sign up for their first Pfizer dose, which will be administered at the Best Western Premier Calgary Plaza Hotel & Conference Centre from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Expanding vaccine appointments beyond those who are part of Indigenous communities is thanks to new partnerships with organizations like the Metis Nation of Alberta – Region 3, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and Calgary Homeless Foundation.
“By partnering with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, the clinic partners will open up the vaccination clinic to vulnerable newcomers, refugees and migrant workers, who face their own COVID-19 challenges including language barriers, misinformation, and isolation,” organizers said.
“CCIS has supported 6,000 newcomers with access to health and safety information and services, community resources, food, medication and emotional support during the pandemic.”
Calgary Homeless Foundation CEO Patricia Jones said the organization is grateful to be included in the clinic.
“With Indigenous people being over-represented within the homeless population in Calgary, this collaboration and partnership with the community are both timely and vitally important. We are working together to make a huge impact for those we serve,” Jones said.
Clinic honoured with Blackfoot name
The clinic also received an official Blackfoot name — iitsokinankiop — which means “a place where you take your body and mind to make it healthy.” The name was unveiled as part of the third launch of the clinic, by Elders Reg and Rose Crowshoe.
“I thank the Elders for gifting us with the name iitsokinankiop. It’s meaning embraces all that we’re trying to achieve through this clinic,” said Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary CEO Shane Gauthier.
“Our collective approach of sharing, caring and kindness has created a safe space where we can contribute to the physical and mental health of our most vulnerable community members.”
Indigenous community members can book an appointment by phone at 403-710-9725 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newcomers can book their appointment by calling 403-629-7090 or emailing email@example.com.
Appointments for people 18 and over in the broader community will be offered as they become available, and can be made online.
As of Monday, more than 2.2 million doses of vaccine had been administered in Alberta. Organizers expect more than 2,400 of those will be given out at the clinic in Calgary as of the end of May.