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

Hundreds gathered at Surrey’s Holland Park Friday (June 11) in memory of the Muslim family killed in London, Ont. on Sunday (June 6). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Educating public ‘exhausting,’ says White Rock Muslim Association past president

Asad Syed says public needs to be more vocal in their condemnation

The City of White Rock turns 63 today. (file photo)
City of White Rock 2020 annual report available for review

Report to be discussed at June 28 council meeting

Dooris Raad was last seen in South Surrey’s Ocean Park neighbourhood on June 7. (Surrey RCMP photo)
Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 13

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read