SASKATOON -- In an annual report focusing on public health in Canada, the nation's top doctor highlights how local community-based efforts helped contain the COVID-19 outbreak which hit northern Saskatchewan earlier this year.

As Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam writes in her report on the state of public health in Canada, when an Outbreak was declared in La Loche in April, it was the first in a remote northern community anywhere in the nation.

At the time an epidemiologist called the outbreak the 'most concerning' in Canada.

In a section of her report focused on the "leadership, resilience and success" seen in many Indigenous communities in the fight against the virus, Tam points to some of the efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 in La Loche — particularly steps taken by Métis Nation Saskatchewan.

"In La Loche, Saskatchewan, the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan supported isolation units for doctors and citizens, distributed masks and gloves, coordinated shipments of food to limit the need for travel, and worked with friendship centres to allocate funding in response to the outbreak in the area," Tam writes.

Tam also says that despite “social and economic challenges” that predate the pandemic and to lead to increased risk factors, First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities have seen many successes in the battle against COVID-19.

"The success of these efforts can be exemplified by First Nations on reserve having lower rates of hospitalizations due to COVID-19, 8.4 per cent compared with 13.4 per cent of the general Canadian population and lower rates of death 1.4 per cent compared to 7.1 per cent for reported cases at the end of August 2020," Tam writes.