CoVaRR-Net Equity and Inclusivity Principles

The academics and researchers that make up CoVaRR-Net live and conduct their research on lands that are the traditional, ancestral, and for some, unceded territories of Indigenous Peoples who inhabit this land. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (TRC) remind us that the violent settlement of these lands set up the ongoing structure of the systemic erasure of Indigenous Peoples (i.e., through colonialism and genocide). This system laid the foundation for, and continues to shape, Indigenous health inequities. Specifically, this structural inequality of colonialism has resulted in the disproportional impact of COVID-19 among Indigenous populations in Canada and the United States. Furthermore, the TRC specifically names the inequities in the healthcare system that Indigenous Peoples face.

We also acknowledge the long history and ongoing role of science in perpetuating a culture that allows and propagates systemic inequity including racism and the exclusion of women, 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals, and peoples with disabilities. Academic institutions have benefited from the profits of the slave trade, have used science to advocate for eugenicsEugenics is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population, historically by excluding people and groups judged to be inferior or promoting those judged to be superior., and have also excluded women and racialized minorities. These institutional foundations leave a profound mark of systemic bias that impoverishes science to this day.

We are committed to a national network that embodies health equity for all those engaged with CoVaRR-Net (patients, researchers, community members) to ensure the research conducted is grounded in inclusivity. Our research and actions are to be based on the principle of justice for all and we strive to remove any differences in power that can be used in discriminatory ways.

Indigenous Peoples have a special place in health equity considerations due to the historic and ongoing impacts of colonialism. Indigenous Research Principles, such as accommodation of diversity, respect for Indigenous knowledge systems, and recognition of diverse research protocols, will be followed to ensure coherent, inclusive, and socially relevant research results. Respect for autonomy of health data are key requirements. Indigenous data sovereignty will be enshrined by following OCAP principles (ownership, control, access and possession).

The specific aspects of differing health outcomes for Indigenous, Black, Asian, women (particularly Indigenous women and women of colour), and other minority groups will be assessed using disaggregated metrics, where feasible.

Our approach to ensuring this equitable health research is to fully factor in social determinants of healthThe World Health Organization defines social determinants of health as: the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems. and to engage with historically marginalized communities to meet this expectation. We will maintain training and awareness activities on systemic and individual bias in science to facilitate diversified recruitment and the egalitarian participation of patients and knowledge users.