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Métis Nation B.C. to require all staff, visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19

Yordanka Minekova, the chief vaccination nurse holds a container of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the state hospital in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru

One of the largest Indigenous governments in B.C. has announced that starting next month, all of its staff, vendors and visitors must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Métis Nation British Columbia announced the policy Monday with an effective date of Oct. 4.

“Part of being leaders is to make difficult decisions,” acting president Lissa Dawn Smith said in a statement.

“I am confident that this is the necessary action to protect our staff, our citizens, our Elders, and our communities.”

READ MORE: B.C. Nurses’ Union president resigns suddenly amid mandatory vaccine debate

The decision comes as mandatory vaccine policies in workplaces and public areas draw ire from some members of the public, many of whom are unvaccinated.

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Protests, some of which have turned to violence, have been held outside hospitals across the country.

“We need to do our part to help get us through the last leg of this pandemic,” said Daniel Fontaine, the organization’s CEO and deputy minister.

“We support the Provincial Health Office and their work in getting our population vaccine. We support the science on the vaccines.”

Click to play video: 'Growing outrage over anti-vaccine protests that forced Salmon Arm schools into lockdown' Growing outrage over anti-vaccine protests that forced Salmon Arm schools into lockdown
Growing outrage over anti-vaccine protests that forced Salmon Arm schools into lockdown – Sep 18, 2021

Staff will be required to prove they have at least one dose of a Health Canada-approved vaccine in two weeks, and double vaccination must be confirmed by Nov. 15, without exemption.

At that time, the organization said any staff who cannot show they’ve had two doses will be placed on unpaid leave.

The policy affects six regional offices throughout the province, and the organization said it’s providing information sessions in the meantime for anyone who is “hesitant” to get a shot.

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