Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre provides safe space for rapid COVID-19 testing


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This article was published 16/04/2021 (479 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre is now offering rapid COVID-19 testing and wraparound support services to the urban Indigenous population in Winnipeg at its King Street location.

Indigenous peoples make up approximately 59 per cent of active cases in Manitoba, even though they account for only 18 per cent of the province’s total population.

There are a number of reasons why positive test rates are higher among Indigenous populations, such as inadequate and overcrowded housing, discrimination in accessing health-care services, and underlying health conditions like diabetes and tuberculosis, according to Human Rights Watch.

Supplied photo A booth where COVID-19 tests are administered at Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre at 445 King St.

By opening a testing site at Ma Mawi — a community organization that delivers programs and services to Indigenous individuals — organizers are hoping Indigenous folks will be more likely to get checked for the illness and quarantine if they test positive.

“(Ma Mawi is) the grandmother in the Winnipeg family of community service providers, so we are the ones that our community trusts the most,” said Jackie Anderson, the community support program manager at the centre.

“People either were not going in for testing or, if they were getting tested, they weren’t fully isolated or quarantined due to (a) lack of support and resources within their homes.

“For example, a single mom might have five or six children that she’s caring for and if she needs to isolate, she isn’t fully able to do so when she needs to take care of her children as well as herself.”

Ma Mawi’s location in the North End is also beneficial to families who don’t have access to a vehicle and/or rely on public transportation. The other nearest testing site is at Thunderbird House on Main Street, although that location has focused on testing primarily homeless and transient individuals.

Tests are administered by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority medical team, while Ma Mawi staff provide wellness checks and resources, such as cultural, cleaning and activity supplies, personal protective equipment, emergency food, and mental health supports, to community members who have been tested and are awaiting their results or have tested positive and are isolating.

Two hundred tests can be administered at the site (445 King St.) daily. Anderson said she suspects the site will be open for at least six months, depending on the needs of the community.

Clinic hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Individuals can either drop-in or book an appointment by calling (toll-free) 1-888-986-8152.

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