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The Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council is preparing for the pandemic’s second wave by working with the governments of Canada and Taiwan to access much-needed medical supplies.
Operation Star Blanket is an initiative led by the tribal council and proposes to access $100 million worth of medical supplies for the fight against COVID-19 from the Republic of China (Taiwan), according to the news release.
This effort will include shipping the supplies to Canada and distributing them to all First Nations and Indigenous communities to protect Indigenous peoples adequately.
The proposal has been submitted to the federal government for funding.
"Taiwan has high-quality and safe medical supplies with great manufacturing capacity. We know there is going to be second wave, and we want to ensure we are continuing our work together between Taiwan, the Indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada to ensure adequate supplies are on hand for all First Nation communities," stated Ken Chalmers, chief of Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation and chairperson of the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council.
"We are taking the initiative to be a part of the solution in the fight against this pandemic. We believe this is a win for all parties involved. First Nations wins, the Trudeau government wins and Taiwan wins by working together to keep our citizens and communities safe."
Chalmers also explained that on Monday the government of Taiwan and the Canadian trade office in Taipei announced a donation of 500,000 medical masks for Canada. Those arrived Tuesday and are intended for the Canadian Red Cross to distribute to hospitals and communities in need, including Indigenous communities.
"Due to the work of Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation and the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council we were able to ensure that First Nations and Indigenous peoples were considered in the donation. The DOTC has been developing a relationship with the Government of Taiwan in order to ensure that all Indigenous communities in Canada are properly supplied with PPE (personal protective equipment)," Chalmers said.
The tribal council has an Indigenous team working in Ottawa, Winnipeg and in Taiwan.
Chalmers further stated that Taiwan currently has a personal protective equipment export ban in place, but that’s scheduled to be lifted at the end of June.
Taiwan is a world leader with the COVID-19 response with only 430 infections and six deaths out of a population of 23 million, according to the release.
» Michele LeTourneau covers Indigenous matters for The Brandon Sun under the Local Journalism Initiative, a federally funded program that supports the creation of original civic journalism.
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