Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller listens to chiefs as they line up to speak during a session at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Health researcher hopes COVID-19 means new policies for Indigenous peoples

The federal government has reported at least 190 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on reserves

A health researcher studying COVID-19 as part of a national immunity task force hopes the pandemic elevates concern for persistent health issues, such as inadequate housing, for Indigenous people in Canada.

“This pandemic has opened the eyes for a lot of people across Canada,” said Dr. Carrie Bourassa, scientific director of the Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health.

“I would like to think that what these … studies will do is change a lot of policies for Canadians and for Indigenous people.

“I hope that this will also raise the bar and help people to understand that equity has not been reached for Indigenous peoples in Canada.”

Bourassa was recently tapped to come up with a plan to engage First Nations, Metis and Inuit people in studies about how the virus has spread and who is immune. The Anishinaabe-Metis professor at the University of Saskatchewan said an Indigenous advisory circle will soon be announced for the two-year project.

It’s critical Indigenous people are included in such studies, she said, because they could be more susceptible to the virus, given factors such as overcrowded housing and poor access to healthy food and clean water.

“Those are now huge mitigating risk factors,” she said. “It gets exasperated in times of a pandemic.”

The federal government has reported at least 190 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on reserves in Britsh Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec.

Communities in Saskatchewan’s far north, including La Loche, a Dene village 600 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon, have been dealing with an outbreak after the virus travelled there with someone who had been at an oilsands work camp in northern Alberta.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller has said that coming out of the pandemic there will be a need to come up with a clear plan to address realities such as overcrowding, historic under-funding of health services and a high rates of diabetes.

Bourassa said access to health care is a major issue, including future access to a potential vaccine.

“It’s often the case that marginalized populations don’t get access to treatment.”

READ MORE: Mixed messages: Ottawa, Moe differ on Indigenous ceremonies during pandemic

— By Stephanie Taylor in Regina

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusIndigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Water recovery team stands down search for missing man in Stellako River

Jason Bouchard was in a boat with a friend that overturned in the river May 16

COVID-19: Increased federal funding for off-reserve Indigenous services welcomed news in north

Funding to benefit organizations such as friendship centres during pandemic

COVID-19: PG Community Foundation to disperse community support funds

$197,630 in funding announced by the Prince George Community Foundation

CGL workforce will gradually increase to 650 workers by end of May

The pipeline company provided a project update on May 21.

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read