Indigenous Challenges and Responses to the Pandemic

Can We Achieve Climate Action And Reconciliation In A Post COVID World?

Author: Mihskakwan James Harper

Published: June 2020

The exciting possibilities for continued growth in 2020 have quickly evaporated as the COVID-19 pandemic challenges the resiliency of nearly every institution on Earth. But interestingly, the very idea of “growth” has been put into focus by the pandemic as largely harmful, as a status quo not worth fighting for after all

The pandemic has made us question, what life after COVID would, could, and should look like. What are the alternatives to that status quo?

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Indigenous People and Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Authors: Paula Arriagada, Tara Hahmann and Vivian O’Donnell

Published: June 23, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many with feelings of uncertainty, loneliness, stress and worry. Many have fears of getting sick, getting other people sick, being separated from family and economic well-being. According to Statistics Canada, six in ten Indigenous participants reported that their mental health had worsened since the onset of physical distancing. In the case of Indigenous women participants, the crowdsourced data indicated that their mental health is being particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic due to increased caregiving burdens, risks of gender-based violence and economic vulnerabilities.

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Covid-19, the Numbered Treaties & the Politics of Life

Author: Yellowhead Institute 

Published: June 2020

“In many Crown-First Nation treaties and specifically the Numbered Treaties, there is reference to health care provisions. Referred to as a medicine chest in some cases or aid in others, this provision appears in written and oral versions of treaties. Why then, is it absent in the conversations around the COVID-19 pandemic and First Nations, when it is needed most? “

The pandemic has also drawn attention to the dysfunctional relationship between different levels of government and Indigenous governments. Indigenous communities and governments have expressed concerns regarding a lack of transparency, communication, and co-operation from the other levels in pandemic support planning and implementation.

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How the COVID-19 Crisis Calls us Towards Reconciliation

Author: Jeff Denis

Published: June 4, 2020

COVID-19 has brought attention to the inequalities in Indigenous communities, such as the lack of clean drinking water, overcrowded housing and inadequate health-care access. Despite being aware of these inequalities, many non-Indigenous Canadians turn away from “Indigenous issues” seeking to return to “normalcy” which creates a barrier to change.

The pandemic provides an opportunity to move forward in a different direction, towards full reconciliation. This would mean respecting Indigenous nations’ political autonomy and jurisdiction, including the right to regulate who enters the community and on what terms. It would also mean providing the necessary funding and other supports to prevent and manage disease outbreaks.

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Canada’s COVID-19 Blind Spots on Race, Immigration and Labour

Author: Aimée-Angélique Bouka and Yolande Bouka

Published: May 19, 2020 

The low paid position in industries that are considered essential during the COVID-19 pandemic (sanitation, health care, and those in the food supply chain) are filled with women, recent immigrants, and racialized Canadians. 

The individuals working in these positions are at great risk of negative health outcomes during this pandemic due to the environment of the workplace. Yet, the government does not collect the necessary data in Canada on the social determinants of health for racialized minorities. This article suggests why Canada should start collecting better health data that looks closely at the intersecting issues of race and immigration.

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Colonialism of the Curve: Indigenous Communities and Bad Covid Data

Author: Courtney Skye

Published: May 12, 2020

The data available to inform Indigenous responses to Covid-19 has been insufficient. There is a clear absence of public data on how the pandemic is and will continue affecting Indigenous peoples. In Canada, cases of COVID-19 among Indigenous peoples are more than three times what is being reported. This report suggests that colonialism and division of power has led to many Indigenous people being ignored and left out of the data.

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Indigenous Education: Modules

Learning modules have been created by the University of Toronto OISE Ontario Institute to help inspire educators and future teachers to develop a deeper understanding of Indigenous perspectives. These modules assist in teaching about Indigenous knowledge, worldviews and the key issues affecting Indigenous people in Canada. 

The modules include:

  • Indigenous Worldviews
  • Indigenous Ways of Knowing
  • Power and Representation: Stereotypes
  • What is Reconciliation?
  • A Short History of Indigenous Education
  • We Are All Treaty People

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Data gaps exist on COVID-19 cases in Indigenous communities, says research fellow

Authors: Jessica Deer, with Courtney Skye

Date: May 6, 2020

Leaders and academics have concerns the data being collected and reported on COVID-19 cases in Indigenous communities isn't presenting a full picture.

The number of cases of COVID-19 in First Nations reserves continues to rise this week, according to data reported by Indigenous Services Canada.

Covid-19 and Inuit Nunangat: Research, Responsibility & Infrastructure Inequality

Authors:  and 

Published:  March 31, 2020

The Yellowhead Institute published an overview of the specific challenges and responses of the community leaders, organizations and government of the Inuit Nunangat. Given the centrality of Elders in Inuit communities, they suggest that they should be considered a high-risk group of people. Leaders of the Inuit Nunangat have also closed borders to their lands as an early response, and demanding 14-day self-isolation for anyone coming into communities. 

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Canada Is Ignoring the Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous Women

Author: Pam Palmater

Published: March 25, 2020

In this article, Pam Palmater highlights how current governmental responses ignored the gendred dynamics of the pandemic for Indigenous women. In light of the funding allocated to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities to respond to the crisis, no funding has been earmarked for addressing the specific realities of Indigenous women and girls. This ommission illustrates a pervasive patterns that enable ongoing violence against Indigenous women and girls. 

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