NorthernNations Cooperative working to provide 550 Indigenous groups with products to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19

Canada NewsWire

VANCOUVER, BCFeb. 10, 2021 /CNW/ – Edison Bolton knows firsthand the pain of losing family members to COVID-19, including a cherished Elder of his community.  Many of Natasha Gerow’s family members were also infected but are now recovering.  “It’s not just the ones who have fallen ill,” said Natasha, “but the fear of catching this horrible virus is heart-wrenching, especially for our Elders and those with pre-existing health concerns“.

These two members of Kitselas First Nation, located in Terrace BC, decided to do something meaningful to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities.  They are among the co-founders of NorthernNations Cooperative, a 100% Indigenous member owned organization that is now making a difference.

NorthernNations is working to distribute Canadian made dry fog disinfectant diffusers.  Foggers are widely used to disinfect aircraft, airports and other large public areas.  For Indigenous communities, these products can be an important part of the high-frequency cleaning protocols that must be maintained to limit the spread of COVID-19 in addition to regular disinfecting of high touch surfaces.

NNC is working with its funding partners to get a large dry fog diffuser (NNC LFOG) in the hands of every Indigenous community and Friendship Centre in Western Canada by the end of March, complete with a three-month supply of the disinfecting liquid dispensed by these units.

The NNC LFOG sprays a fine mist of a Health Canada approved, hospital-grade disinfecting solution into a room that kills 99.999% of harmful bacteria and viruses.  The disinfectant is all-natural, child and pet friendly, pH balanced, odorless, colorless and does not contain alcohol or other irritants.

Indigenous people in Canada have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and according to Indigenous Services Canada, as of January 19th the rate of reported cases of COVID-19 in First Nations living on reserve is currently 40% higher than the rate in the general Canadian population.  “These statistics are deeply concerning and assisting Indigenous communities is our number one priority” said Mr. Matt Vickers, CEO of NorthernNations.  “We have a unique team that truly understands the needs of Indigenous communities.  We are an organization 100% owned and led by Indigenous people, promoting the needs of Indigenous people.  Many of us grew up on reserves, so we understand the unique challenges of our communities” said Mr. Vickers.

For the majority of First Nations in Canada, their government offices and local Friendship Centres are the primary providers of essential services to community members.  Used in conjunction with other existing COVID-19 protocols, the products provided by NNC will greatly assist Indigenous communities to reopen their offices.” said Edison Bolton.

NorthernNations is now working with the highest levels of the federal, provincial and territorial governments to help fund the NNC COVID-19 Recovery Program.  NorthernNations is planning to distribute its products to 550 Indigenous groups including all communities and friendship centers in Western and Northern Canada, home to 70% of Indigenous people in Canada.  “It’s a massive logistical undertaking to deliver these machines and liquid to all communities” said Mr. Vickers and “In the near future, we hope to work with our funding partners to deliver these important products across Canada.

As of December 18th, Indigenous Services Canada had announced over $4.2 billion in specific COVID-19 support to Indigenous and Northern communities and organizations.  In a recent letter Matt Vickers personally thanked Prime Minister Trudeau for all that he, and his government, has done to assist the Indigenous people of Canada to recover from this public health crisis.  Vickers said “We note from recent reports that several Provinces have unspent COVID-19 funding that was provided by Canada, and we welcome the provinces and territories to also participate financially in our important program“.

About NorthernNations Cooperative

NNC is a federally chartered Cooperative established in 2019 under the Canada Cooperatives Act.  The head office of NNC is located in West Vancouver BC on the lands of the Squamish Nation of the Coast Salish People.  The Cooperative also has business offices located in Edmonton on the traditional territory of the Cree Nation and in Calgary on the traditional territory of the Blackfoot Nation.

The Cooperative business model was chosen because it expresses our root belief that the collective is much stronger than the individual.  This Cooperative structure allows all citizens of our Members to directly benefit from the programs NorthernNations is now putting in place.

In March 2021, NorthernNations will launch its Member engagement with all First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities, as well as all other Indigenous Associations, Councils and Societies in Western and Northern Canada with invitations to join the Cooperative.  NNC Membership will enable the citizens of these groups to enjoy the significant social and financial benefits available through the Cooperative.  The launch of NorthernNations in Eastern Canada is then planned for the second half of 2021.

NNC believes that true economic equity for Canada’s Indigenous people can only be realized through increased access to capital, business ownership, entrepreneurship, as well as capacity and skills development.  NorthernNations’ mission is therefore focused on economic prosperity for its Members through profitable business ownership, equity participation in major resource projects and by providing multi-generational dividend distribution to its Members.

Accomplishing NNC’s mission requires an innovative approach to accessing investment capital, and to that end NorthernNations Capital Corp. has been established as a majority owned NorthernNations subsidiary with a mandate to attract significant amounts of private capital to acquire a portfolio of existing businesses and to invest in major projects.  “This strategy will significantly accelerate Indigenous-owned business growth on a national scale in Canada” said Leo de Bever who has joined NNC as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NorthernNations Capital Corp.  Mr. de Bever was previously the CEO of AIMCo, Alberta’s sovereign wealth and public pension fund manager.

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