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Nuxalk Nation calls out B.C. health officials after vaccines withdrawn from community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

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

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The school is very proud of these students (pictured, left to right): Halim Demir (holding Grace Valdez’ gold certificate); Lauren McIlwain, Shayleen Mack, Jaymen Schieck, Kyle Doiron, and Finn Carlson (photo submitted)
SAMS students excel in international competition

The SAMS team swept their category this year; all six participants received awards

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

The avalanche came down on the highway sometime Sunday evening (Feb. 21) (Dawson photo)
Road to Bella Coola wharf reopens after large avalanche

The road was closed after a large avalanche covered a significant portion of the highway

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Most Read