Kiiweetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa says he was "caught off guard" after Premier Doug Ford suggested that he had jumped the queue for a COVID-19 vaccination.
The comment from the Premier came during Thursday's Question Period at Queen's Park when MPP Mamakwa pushed the government on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to urban Indigenous populations.
The Premier responded by highlighting what steps the province has taken to support the Indigenous population through the pandemic, including flying the vaccine to 31 fly-in Indigenous communities, and then proceed to accuse MPP Mamakwa of jumping the COVID-19 vaccination queue.
"Not only did Ornge fly in, but the member flew in too to get his vaccine, so thank you for doing that and kinda jumping the line. As I talked to a few Chiefs that were pretty upset about that. For flying into a community that he doesn't belong [to], but that's neither here nor there," said Premier Ford.
According to posts on his official social media accounts last month, MPP Mamakwa received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine on February 1 in Muskrat Dam, at the request of First Nation leadership and health leaders. According to the post this was part of a movement to encourage Indigenous populations to get vaccinated. He received his second dose on March 1 in Sandy Lake First Nation.
"I took it as the Premier of Ontario undermining and damaging the vaccination efforts that we're doing.... to increase the uptake of the vaccine in Indigenous communities, whether it's on or off-reserve," Mamakwa told KenoraOnline.
He noted that he sees the vaccine as a way to preserve the Indigenous way of life, the languages, and the health and history of Indigenous people.
"If I changed one person's mind who is undecided or a person that's not taking the vaccine, my campaign would have been successful."
Comment from the Premier or his office was not made available prior to publishing.