How COVID-19 impacts Indigenous communities

Ryerson professors, researchers outline unique vulnerabilities facing First Nations in Canada

Even before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, people were receiving the directive to repeatedly and thoroughly wash their hands. As the days go on, the need for self-isolation, whether you’re showing symptoms or not, is increasing in an attempt to flatten the curve.  

But what does that mean for the countless Indigenous Peoples across Canada who don’t have access to clean water or proper housing?

Currently there are more than 100 drinking water advisories, external link in First Nations across Canada. Further to that, substandard housing and infrastructure for First Nations communities continues, external link to be an ongoing struggle for those living on and away from their community.

Given the history of high rates of infectious disease in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, it is possible that COVID-19 could be devastating, says a report from Yellowhead Institute, external link, authored by Hayden King, the organization’s executive director, with support from Ryerson student Josephine Slaughter.

The Yellowhead report explains how First Nations are responding to the pandemic, including enforcing border closings to outsiders and developing a flag system to respond to calls for assistance. The institute developed an information and resources page, external link to help Indigenous communities, which includes PDF filehighlights from a webinar with Indigenous health professionals, external link who are working on the ground to address the impact of COVID.

Indigenous voices that need to be heard

Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaw citizen and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick, and a politics and public administration professor and chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson. In her article for Canadian Dimension, external link, Palmater outlined the many ways COVID-19 affects Indigenous communities, most notably women.  

The link to the full article: https://www.ryerson.ca/news-ev...


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