The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs alongside the Children’s Hospital Foundation are supplying 30,000 masks to First Nations in Manitoba to help protect them against the coronavirus.

AMC and CHFM are partnering together to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Manitoba's First Nations communities. They are also making masks available to all children visiting the HSC Children’s Hospital Emergency Department.

The AMC has donated $75,000 to the foundation in order to help support the health needs of First Nations children.

According to the press release, First Nations people are currently most likely to be infected through close contact from a known case of COVID-19. This is due to a myriad of socio-economic factors such as overcrowded housing, lack of essential water infrastructure to sanitize homes and hands, lack of access to quality health care - all of which have put First Nation communities at higher risk of spread of the coronavirus because it is more difficult to isolate appropriately within the home.

"These masks are a welcome support at a time when our communities are seeing rising numbers of COVID-19 cases," says AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas. "First Nations people continue to make up a highly disproportionate number of new cases in Manitoba. The 5-day test positivity rate remains significantly higher than the rest of the province. It is critical that we are diligent with following the protective public health measures – like wearing multilayered face masks - to reduce the impacts as much as we can."

The masks supplied are 3-ply and have a removable filter for an additional fourth layer of protection. The design on the front represents the colours of a First Nations medicine wheel and includes two bears: Jordan’s Principle Spirit Bear, and the Children’s Hospital Foundation Dr. Goodbear.

"We exist so our community can offer the best care and support to sick and injured children. We believe this support right now to First Nations in Manitoba is absolutely vital to the current and future health of First Nation children," says Stefano Grande, President and CEO of Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba.

The masks will be distributed over the following weeks. AMC will distribute twenty thousand masks to First Nations in Manitoba and ten thousand masks will be supplied by CHFM to Children’s Hospital Emergency Department.