Theme 5: Indigenous Peoples Health & Wellbeing

As with other outbreaks, Indigenous communities in Canada are currently experiencing a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 with many provinces reporting the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in First Nations communities. Despite Indigenous peoples being disproportionately impacted from ID, very little is known about contributing factors, and how they impact and change our understanding and modelling of disease transmission in Indigenous communities.

This research theme will study key areas of concern specific to Indigenous communities not addressed in modelling approaches, including: what factors contribute to different rates and pathways for ID spread in Indigenous populations (IP); how improved non-invasive monitoring strategies and early detection can empower communities and enhance self-determination; and, how response and mitigation can be informed by these data to limit spread and contain viruses at the earliest point of detection.

Emerging Infectious Disease and Indigenous Peoples Health & Wellbeing

Co-Project Investigators: Kerry Black (University of Calgary) and Sean Hillier (York University)

This project comprises of research activities such as community-based participatory approaches, integrating transdisciplinary investigative methods informed by Indigenous research methodologies to establish the social determinants of health that impact the rate and spread of disease, including a focus on how these factors impact Indigenous peoples, and how this information can better inform disease modelling approaches. With unique social structures, independent healthcare systems and interactions with non-Indigenous communities, many current COVID-19 models lack the relevant dynamics and assumptions to be relevant to Indigenous communities. This project aims to build on community experiences to generate the necessary data and help inform the development of models that are relevant to Indigenous communities and can accurately aid pandemic policy and decision-making practices.

The focus is on understanding how the modelling approach needs to be different. Areas include: Health and non-health based factors influencing rate and spread of disease, mobilizing knowledge to inform, engage and empower Indigenous communities in decision-making around health and Indigenous-centered approaches to early detection, response & mitigation.