WINNIPEG -- The Government of Taiwan has donated 500,000 medical masks to help Canada in its fight against COVID-19.

According to a news release from Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation, the masks arrived in the country earlier this week and will be distributed by the Red Cross to the hospitals and communities that need them. It notes that Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation and the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council (DOTC) worked to make sure Indigenous communities will also receive part of the donation.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of China (Taiwan) said 400,000 masks will go to the Canadian government, 50,000 will go to Ontario, and 25,000 to both Alberta and British Columbia.

“While the bulk of the donation will be used to assist Canada’s frontline medical personnel, a portion of it will be provided to Canada’s Indigenous communities,” it said.


In order to ensure Canada’s Indigenous communities are given an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), the DOTC has been collaborating with the Government of Taiwan, which has had 430 cases of COVID-19 amongst its population of 23 million.

Birdtail Sioux has also submitted a proposal to the federal government, titled ‘Operation: Star Blanket,’ in order to receive funding for PPE. The news release says the goal of this initiative is to obtain medical supplies from Taiwan to distribute to First Nations and Indigenous communities.

“Taiwan has high-quality and safe medical supplies with great manufacturing capacity,” said Chief Kenneth Chalmers of Birdtail Sioux in the news release, noting that if there’s a second wave of the virus he wants to make sure Taiwan, Indigenous communities and Canada continue to work together.

The DOTC has a team working in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Taiwan, with the person in Taiwan communicating with the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, the Council of Indigenous People, Taiwanese medical manufacturers and the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei.

“We are taking the initiative to be a part of the solution in the fight against this pandemic, we believe this is a win for all parties involved; First Nations win, the Trudeau government wins, and Taiwan wins by working together to keep our citizens and communities safe,” said Chalmers.

There is currently a PPE export ban in Taiwan, which is set to be lifted at the end of June.