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.
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.
The Times community journalist
If The Buggles’ 1979 breakout single were about Sydney, it might be called Print Killed the Radio Star. Before she joined Canstar Community News, Sydney was an anchor and a reporter for a few local news radio stations in rural Manitoba. After realizing she enjoyed writing more than speaking, Sydney moved to Winnipeg just months after graduating from Carleton University in Ottawa with degrees in journalism and geography. Through clenched teeth and frostbitten fingers, she has come to appreciate Winnipeg — numbing winters and all. When she’s not in the newsroom, Sydney can be found playing card games, listening to music, and writing content for her friends who are too cheap to hire a PR team. Sydney has a strong heart for community news and believes every neighbourhood, town and city is better off because of it — although she may be biased. Sydney loves learning about communities and what makes them tick, which is why she’s grateful to be a reporter covering northwest Winnipeg neighbourhoods, where resilience and innovation is abundant. She can be reached at email@example.com