Bonnie Healey, health director for the Blackfoot Confederacy, chats with southern Alberta residents lining up to get shots of a COVID-19 vaccine from a Montana tribe in Carway, Alta., Tuesday, May 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Bonnie Healey, health director for the Blackfoot Confederacy, chats with southern Alberta residents lining up to get shots of a COVID-19 vaccine from a Montana tribe in Carway, Alta., Tuesday, May 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

VIDEO: ‘Absolutely beautiful’: Albertans line up at U.S. border for COVID-19 vaccinations

Hundreds of vehicles lined up at the Carway crossing to receive excess vaccines from The Blackfeet Tribe

Linda Neilson had waited a long time to get her second COVID-19 vaccination and thanks to the generosity of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana her wait ended at the Canada-United States border on Tuesday.

Neilson, who is from nearby Cardston, Alta., was in one of hundreds of vehicles lined up at the Carway crossing in southern Alberta.

The Blackfeet Tribe, based 150 kilometres south of Lethbridge, Alta., had an abundance of vaccine and decided last month to share it with Canada rather than let it go to waste. Initially it was just open to First Nations, but the tribe soon decided to offer it to everybody.

“I’m going to be all done, finally. It feels great. It’s been a bit of a wait, but it’s worth it,” said Neilson, who received her first shot of Moderna in March.

“I was amazed and grateful because it’s too slow getting it any other way. We’re just glad they were able to help us.”

Albertans who attend the clinic are given exemptions from having to quarantine for 14 days. They line up in their cars, drive through a loop that takes them just across the border, receive their shots through the window, are monitored for 15 minutes and return home.

Health workers from the Blackfeet Tribe and members of the Montana National Guard administer the vaccine.

Tuesday marked the second offering of shots. The lineup was more than a kilometre long by 9 a.m. Some people slept in their cars on the highway and on road allowances to ensure they got a turn before supply ran out.

That’s what happened to Ken Sawatzky when he drove from Calgary a couple of weeks ago. He wanted to get his booster shot because his wife is a cancer patient.

He drove down again Tuesday.

“She’s fully inoculated. This will make sure we’re both safe, because I’m her caregiver, too. I think it’s a great thing,” said Sawatzky.

“I’m looking forward to getting this done. I’ll sleep better.”

Bonnie Healy, health director for the Blackfoot Confederacy, helped co-ordinate the vaccination clinic. She said the response has been overwhelming.

“I had a hard time believing it was that hard to get a shot in Canada. A lot of people are coming for a second dose,” Healy said.

One man flew in from Toronto the last time around, drove to the site, got his shot and flew home, she said.

“We had a car full of 18-year-old girls and another car full of 18-year-old boys,” Healy said.

“They were all coming to get their first vaccination. They were all celebrating it.”

Catherine Bechard, regional Indigenous Affairs adviser for the Canada Border Services Agency, said she jumped at a chance to help out at the clinic.

“It’s just an amazing thing what they’re doing and a gift they’re giving to Canadians,” Bechard said.

Dave and Cathy Goodbrand also drove the 260 kilometres from Calgary to get their second shots.

“We’re happy to get down here. It’s a relief. Four months is too long to wait in between vaccines,” said Cathy Goodbrand.

“It’s absolutely beautiful. The Blackfoot Indians are just coming through (for us).”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2021.

—Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Too early to set a date on loosening travel restrictions: Canada’s transport minister

RELATED: U.S. border agency says COVID vax not essential; Canadians could be denied entry

CoronavirusUSAvaccines

Just Posted

Chemainus Secondary School 2021 graduate and valedictorian Chayla Pollock receives her certificate from principal Lori Hryniuk. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Valedictorian Pollock’s address to the Class of 2021

Different kind of setting in a classroom for the traditional presentation

Chemainus Secondary School 2021 graduate Nina Bumstead. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Grad ceremony proceeds, with a twist

Red carpet outside works out well for Chemainus Secondary’s Class of 2021

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

Chemainus street signs now contain Hul’qumi’num translations, like this one at the corner of Willow and Legion Streets. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Street signs go up in the Hul’qumi’num language

Chemainus intersections feature direct translations

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

A person stands in a tower on the perimeter of the Number 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on April 23, 2021. Human rights groups and Western nations led by the United States, Britain and Germany accused China of massive crimes against the Uyghur minority and demanded unimpeded access for U.N. experts at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 denounced by China as “politically motivated” and based on “lies.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Schiefelbein
VIDEO: Trudeau demands truth from China about Uyghurs

PM says Canada has admitted broken Indigenous relationship, unlike China on Uyghurs

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, middle right, participates in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in honour of the launch of Kelowna’s plasma donor centre at Orchard Plaza Mall on June 22. From left to right: Canadian Blood Services’ business development manager Janna Pantella, Canadian Blood Services’ operational excellence manager Tyler Burke, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Canadian Blood Services’ centre manager Janine Johns. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
B.C.’s first dedicated plasma donor centre opens in Kelowna

The Kelowna location is the third dedicated plasma donor to open in Canada

Children walk with their parents to Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver for the first day back to school on Sept. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Study reassures parents, teachers that COVID-19 infrequently shared at school

Federally funded study in Vancouver finds risk in the classroom and in the community identical

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday April 13, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Single-game sports betting about to become legal in Canada

Senate passes bill to take sports gambling away from overseas agencies

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Point Roberts is part of the mainland United States but not physically connected to it, to reach the community by land one must pass through Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Closed Canadian border leaves Point Roberts’ only grocery store on verge of closure

‘We’re Americans but we’re not attached to America. It’s easy to forget we’re here,’ says owner Ali Hayton

The Somass Sawmill sits idle in early May 2021. While the kilns have been in use occasionally, and the lot has been used to store woodchips this spring, the mill has been curtailed since July 27, 2017. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni to expropriate Somass Sawmill from Western Forest Products

Sawmill has been ‘indefinitely’ curtailed since 2017

Robin Sanford and her fiance Simon Park were married in an impromptu ceremony at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on June 16. (Submitted photo)
Mom dies day after witnessing daughter’s hospital wedding in Abbotsford

Nurses help arrange impromptu ceremony in 3 hours for bride and groom

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. home owner grant won’t be altered, despite expert advice

Tax break for residences worth up to $1.6 million too popular

Most Read