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

A report shows nine West Kootenay communities are have more low-income persons than the provincial average. File photo
Study casts new light on poverty in the West Kootenay

Nine communities in region have more low-income residents than provincial average

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

There were no injuries in a fire on the KFP deck, and an estimated $3,000 damage. Photo: Submitted
Nelson fire department extinguishes blaze on KFP dock

The fire originated in a tent, but there were no injuries

Starting on June 15 the Nelson Public Library will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Photo: Submitted
CHECK THIS OUT: Nelson library returns to regular hours

The library will still require masks and no seating for the time being

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

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

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read