“I was listening to other people, people that have their own way of dealing with this...they were defiant,” says Doreen Alexis, a social worker and Elder from Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation.
Doreen’s husband, Rod Alexis, an Elder, former two-term Chief, and the last Hereditary Chief of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, believes there’s a misunderstanding among those people. “People are saying, ‘I shouldn’t be told what to do, it’s my life.’ No. It’s everybody’s life. We’re not deciding for ourselves, we’re deciding for everyone,” he says.
“I decided to take (the COVID-19 vaccine) because I thought about my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, and the young people,” Doreen says. “I need to take it so I can survive and continue to help our young people become strong and resilient. This is a virus that has no mercy.”
The couple’s family was affected deeply by the COVID-19 disease. Doreen tested positive about a year ago and her entire family was forced to self-isolate. Their son, a single parent living in Edmonton, also contracted the disease in December 2020. Doreen brought him traditional medicines and saw just how sick he was. “He wouldn’t allow me to go in – I was really worried,” she says. “He was telling me his symptoms...he was almost fainting, crawling from the bathroom to the bed, almost blacking out.
“I saw how much my son was suffering,” Doreen says. “Some people come out of it...two weeks, three weeks...but for him, he went into the hospital at the right time to get help.”
Doreen also says they had an 18-year-old grandson who wasn't taking the disease seriously. She says he was reading and listening to disinformation and pseudoscience. “We had to get him out of that,” she says. Unfortunately, their grandson contracted COVID-19 through a close family member, and it spread throughout his household. “I had to go back and forth delivering food, medicines...it was endless,” Doreen says.
After he recovered, and was eligible to receive the vaccine, Rod and Doreen talked him through the process. “I reminded my grandson of that (when he was sick),” Doreen says. “I told him, ‘you’re young, you need to survive...we don’t know how long this is going to last...look at me, (I got the vaccine and) I’m okay – don’t be afraid.’”
“Initially when our grandson said no to the vaccine, I said, ‘you have to think of your cousins, your brothers, your sister,” Rod says. “The only option we have right now is what we have in front of us. People have to understand that.”
Today, all of Doreen and Rod’s children and grandchildren, who are eligible, have taken the vaccine.
For Rod, “Your Health, Our Strength” isn’t just a phrase – it is a healthy, natural space where our people can live free of disease and worry.
Dr. Evan Adams, Chief Medical Officer of the First Nations Health Authority in B.C., tells stories about his life and the importance of vaccination.
As an Indigneous person with Cree, Anishnaabe, Métis and Pacific Islander roots, Dr. Lafontaine understands the hesitancy that many First Nations people face when considering getting vaccinated for the Coronavirus.
Howard Mustus Sr. is an Elder from the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. As a retiree, Mustus and his wife have been travelling the world and enjoying their free time. They planned to make 2020 another year to explore and see new places but the pandemic took that opportunity away.
We have put together images you can share on social media with your friends and family. Download these images and encourage others to get the facts about the vaccine in order to make an informed decision.
We want to be a healthy community so we can be forceful and strong for generations to come.