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

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Campbell River softball player takes game to Division 1 university

Saje Kurpiela to pitch for University of Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks

DFO says the five aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Share your thoughts on proposed Quinsam Heights Official Community Plan changes

The City of Campbell River is seeking public feedback on a proposal… Continue reading

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

More than $800,000 in suspected cocaine seized from ship near Victoria

RCMP Dive Team suspects more narcotics had been stored below ship’s waterline

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Most Read