The Nuxalk Nation held its first COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Jan. 19. (Bella Coola Valley-Nuxalk Nation Coordinated Information Bulletin Facebook photo)

The Nuxalk Nation held its first COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Jan. 19. (Bella Coola Valley-Nuxalk Nation Coordinated Information Bulletin Facebook photo)

Nuxalk Nation calls out B.C. health officials after vaccines withdrawn from community

Health authority board chair issues apology

Chief and council of a remote B.C. First Nation want immediate action in light of what they call a disastrous decision by health officials to withdraw potentially life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from the community.

Nuxalk Nation and Bella Coola General Hospital were set to receive 110 vaccine doses each in January. But when Vancouver Coastal Health officer Dr. John Harding arrived in Bella Coola on Jan. 17, the nation found out he had brought 360 doses with him.

“When we were told of the 360 vaccines, we were also told we had up to two weeks to give the vaccine out,” Nuxalk councilor Iris Siwallace told Black Press Media.

Read More: Active COVID cases drop to four; schools re-open for face-to-face instruction

On Jan. 19, the Nation held a vaccine clinic where 75 on-reserve elders were inoculated. During the clinic, Siwallace said Harding told Nuxalk leadership there would be joint collaboration in the initial rollout of the 360 doses.

However, according to reports by the CBC, Harding later suggested in an email exchange that further vaccinations be offered to off-reserve Nuxalk Nation members. Nuxalk executive director Wilma Mack responded, requesting 250 of the doses be released to their nursing team.

Siwallace said that later that afternoon Harding emailed Nuxalk they would have until 10 a.m. on Jan 22 to provide a rollout plan or he would take the vaccines back to Vancouver. Nuxalk officials responded with a plan at 10:02 a.m.

“He stated in one of his emails because we didn’t meet the required time frame, he was taking the vaccines away, but VCH was going to honour and gift the nation the 110 doses,” Siwallace said.

READ MORE: Local family shares their experience of COVID-19

In a statement, Vancouver Coastal board chair Dr. Penny Ballem said the authority failed to provide a culturally safe and respectful experience for Nuxwalk members while providing COVID-19 vaccines.

“As I have shared with Chief Webber, we sincerely apologize to the Chief, Nuxalk Nation, and its members,” Ballem stated.

After having had assisted in welcoming Harding to Nuxalk territory and blessing him in bringing the vaccines, Siwallace said she felt it was a disgrace to Nuxalk.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

First Nationsracism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cassidy Dankochik joined the Observer’s staff in Aug. of 2020 by way of Gimli, Altona, and Flin Flon, Manitoba. (Photo by Tracey Roberts)
EDITOR’S COLUMN: Optimism at council

Cassidy Dankochik enjoyed the news from the City of Quesnel’s most recent meeting

Sandi Griffiths is the region’s new district manager of transportation for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
New MOTI district manager takes the wheel in Williams Lake

Sandi Griffiths replaces Todd Hubner who retired recently

A snowfall warning has been issued for Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Black Press Media)
Snowfall warning issued for Cariboo region

Between 10 to 15 cm expected

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: The aging ranchers bumble along

Not all consumers can touch the land, see the farms and converse with the folks that produce food

Avalanche Canada has issued a special avalanche warning for the Cariboo Mountains effective through the weekend. (Wes Gregg photo)
Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Most Read