Masks in Every Community – A group of Ontario volunteers is securing PPE for northern, remote and Indigenous communities


A group of Ontario volunteers is securing PPE for northern, remote and Indigenous communities

OTTAWA, May 5, 2020 — After locating 22.9 million masks for Ontario hospitals by cold-calling businesses right out of the Yellow Pages, and directing an offer of 2,000 ventilators from Tesla to the Ministry of Health, this volunteer-led organization has set their sights on providing Personal Protective Equipment to the province’s northern, remote and Indigenous communities.

VIO Volunteers, a new Canadian nonprofit, is gearing up to launch Masks in Every Community — a drive to secure funds and the life-saving PPE needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The grassroots effort is aimed at raising $100,000 on GoFundMe for the purchase and delivery of equipment through a supplier they’ve secured with a Class IV licence to import medical devices.

While they’re continuing outreach to conduct needs assessments in conjunction with the Chiefs of Ontario, NationTalk/, the First Nation Health Managers Association and other Indigenous leaders, early projections place their goal at acquiring:

  • 1.8 million N95 masks
  • 20,000 face shields
  • 200,000 disposable gowns and Tyvek suits
  • 1 million pairs of disposable full-seal non-latex gloves
  • 450,000 bars of soap and bottles of hand sanitizer

As an entirely volunteer-run operation, there will be minimal overhead and no cost to the communities involved.

“This initiative can’t be a drain in any way, shape, or form on the limited resources of First Nations and northern communities,” says Claudine Santos, CEO and president of the young organization and spokesperson for the Masks in Every Community campaign.

Director of parliamentary affairs to Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson, Santos is drawing on nearly a decade’s worth of experience on the Hill and expertise in Indigenous issues, natural resources, energy and environment to personally hammer out the logistics. She’s already secured a deal with North West Company — the leading retailer in Northern Canada, owners of North Star Air, and experts at moving products to difficult-to-reach communities — to piggyback on their deliveries, bringing PPE to the communities they serve free of charge.

Many of the communities served by North West Company’s stores are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Larger populations of elders, shared living, a high incidence of diabetes and respiratory illnesses, delays caused by airlifts should residents require life-saving treatments, and insufficient health-care facilities are just a few of the many heightened risk factors. Without access to life-saving PPE, the mortality rate could be devastating.

About VIO Volunteers

VIO Volunteers is a nonprofit organization that began as a public Facebook group founded by Matt Drouillard on March 21, 2020. Their latest initiative, Masks in Every Community, is raising funds to supply Ontario’s northern, remote and Indigenous communities with life-saving Personal Protective Equipment.


Claudine Santos, (613) 601-1184,
VIO Volunteers, (613) 663-5073,


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