Pillar 7
Indigenous Engagement, Development, and Research (CIEDAR)

Throughout the pandemic, it is clear that poor and racialized populations, including Indigenous Peoples, have been more likely to experience severe illness and die from COVID-19 than the general Canadian population. Knowing this, the authors wanted to better understand what social factors (i.e., household income, household composition, minority status/experiences of racism, housing and transportation, and the number of First Nations communities) influence Indigenous Peoples’ health during the pandemic across Canadian health regions.

The study found that regions with higher unemployment rates, population density, and a greater number of workers with a commute over 60 minutes had higher rates of COVID-19. There were also more COVID-19 cases in regions within the Northern Territories and Prairie Provinces. In contrast, regions with a higher percentage of elders (people 65 years or older) and regions in the Atlantic Provinces, had lower rates of COVID-19. Finally, regions with a higher percentage of Indigenous Peoples had a different relationship with COVID-19 cases, depending on the number of people who identified as First Nation, Métis, Inuit, or with multiple Indigenous groups.

These findings clearly demonstrate the effect of both social factors and location on health, as well as the complexities between different Indigenous communities and their health. The authors state that the Canadian government must continue to invest in collecting accurate and reliable data on COVID-19 cases and this data must distinguish between different Indigenous identities. Ensuring that better data is provided in the future helps to foster Indigenous sovereignty and improve community health. The results also emphasize the ongoing impact of colonialism and oppression on the health of Indigenous Peoples. This is evident in the unemployment rates, transportation needs, and population density that significantly increase vulnerability to COVID-19 in Indigenous communities. Supporting Indigenous communities dealing with COVID-19, or any future pandemics and health emergencies, must include addressing these root causes of disease and illness.

Huyser KR, Yellow Horse AJ, Collins KA, Fischer J, Jessome MG, Ronayne ET, Lin JC, Derkson J, Johnson-Jennings M. Understanding the Associations among Social Vulnerabilities, Indigenous Peoples, and COVID-19 Cases within Canadian Health Regions. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(19), 12409; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191912409.