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

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Jen Klein fainted while driving and crashed on Pat Bay Highway in 2019

Non-venomous ball python missing in Vic West

Snake was reported missing to Victoria police Tuesday morning

Multiple Victoria officers injured during violent incidents, including mental health calls over long weekend

Police deploy pepper spray, conducted energy weapon while arresting suspect

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Most Read