An Indigenous COVID-19 Task Force initiated by the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary has helped deliver food hampers and emergency care packages to the city’s most vulnerable people.
“Many of our people are homeless,” says the centre’s operations manager, Melissa Roy.
“They don’t have ID and they don’t have access to information on what kind of assistance is available, or for that matter, the daily briefings from health officials about how to avoid contracting the virus.”
The task force, made up of more than 10 Calgary area helping organizations, is ensuring community members have access to basic necessities during the crisis.
“Bringing a coordinated effort to supporting Indigenous people in our region is critical if we are to maximize our efforts,” says Shane Gauthier, CEO of the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary.
“We serve some of Calgary’s most vulnerable people, many of whom are falling through the cracks during this pandemic. We know that collectively our impact is greater.”
Almost immediately after forming the Task Force, United Way of Calgary, Pembina Pipeline Corporation and First Nations Health Consortium delivered more than 500 food hampers and 100 emergency care packages.
One of the community partners is Awo Taan Healing Lodge, which serves Indigenous families fleeing domestic violence. The task force has delivered more than 200 emergency packages to women and their children at the lodge, including food, personal care items and diapers.
The Task Force is helping community members fill out applications for provincial and federal emergency supports and raising education and awareness around COVID-19 transmission, symptoms and protective measures. Elders are on hand to provide cultural counselling.
Community support is available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The Task Force needs more support and if others would like to provide support, they can contact AFCC for more details on how assist. The website is https://www.afccalgary.org/