(Calgary, AB April 15, 2020) – The Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary (AFCC) and its community partners and stakeholders are coordinating efforts to support Calgary’s Indigenous population during the COVID-19 pandemic through the establishment of an Indigenous COVID-19 Task Force. The Task Force, made up of more than ten Calgary area helping organizations, will ensure 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.”
According to Gauthier, the response from helping organizations has been extraordinary. Almost immediately after forming the Task Force, United Way of Calgary, Pembina Pipeline Corporation and First Nations Health Consortium stepped up to help deliver over 500 food hampers and 100 emergency care packages.
One of AFCC’s community partners is Awo Taan Healing Lodge, which serves Indigenous families fleeing domestic violence. The Task Force has delivered over 200 emergency packages to women and their children at the lodge, including food, personal care items, and diapers.
The Task Force is taking on additional duties to ensure community members get the support they need. “Many of our people are homeless,” says AFCC 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.”
To fill that void, 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. Staff are helping individuals access additional emergency supports with partnering agencies and AFCC Elders are on hand to provide cultural counselling.
Community support is available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. For more information about the services provided by the Task Force, call 403-370-6422.