'We want to survive': Indigenous children in Toronto receive COVID-19 vaccines at school clinic
Published Monday, May 10, 2021 10:00PM EDT
TORONTO -- Indigenous children in Toronto are celebrating after becoming some of the first kids in Ontario to receive one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Last week, Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15. Most provinces intend to have children receive first doses by the end of the school year.
While children in Ontario are not yet eligible for the vaccine, Anishnawbe Health Toronto, an Indigenous health and wellness centre in the province's capital, decided not to wait and began administering doses to children through a clinic at a local school on Monday.
"If Health Canada says it's OK, I think that we as a group of people should be able to make that decision,” Harvey Manning, director of programs and services at Anishnawbe Health Toronto, told CTV News.
The clinic was a welcome sight to many students who see the vaccine as way of returning to the pre-pandemic way of living.
"I'm so happy because now I can get back to my normal life,” said Raven Stewart, who received the shot along with her 12-year-old sister Dennae.
"I still can't really believe I got the vaccine already, but I feel good about it," Dennae said.
Suzanne Stewart, Raven and Dennae’s mother, jumped at the opportunity to get her children vaccinated when she heard about the clinic.
"We want to survive in this pandemic,” she said. “We want to keep our generations strong and we want to be able to do that in an environment that's culturally safe and culturally based."
Twelve-year-old Aadehwiin Shawana also received the vaccine on Monday in hopes that his special day can be a little more special.
"Hopefully my friends get it though, because I want to have a birthday party with my friends, instead of having it alone,” he said.
Anishnawbe Health is also hosting another vaccination clinic for children at an Indigenous housing unit in Toronto that has already seen two outbreaks.
According to CTVNews.ca’s vaccine tracker, nearly 15 million Canadians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 1.2 million Canadians are fully vaccinated.