Inuit Youth and Families During COVID-19: A Strengths-Based Focus on Resources Needed to Optimize Post-Pandemic Resilience.

Bohr, Yvonne | $150,000

Ontario York University 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

How the COVID‑19 pandemic has affected Inuit youth in Nunavut is not yet well understood. Enduring effects of colonialism, infrastructure inequalities, geographic isolation, and loss of cultural identity may make Inuit youth more vulnerable to the psychological effects of COVID-19. In this research, we are hoping to support Inuit youth in sharing what the impact of this pandemic has been on their own and their families’ mental wellness. We are further hoping to invite youth to identify the culturally specific personal and community resources they relied on to get through the many restrictions that were imposed in the pandemic. This information, as well as the youth’s reports on COVID‑19 related challenges and needs, would provide input on useful tools and services that could be offered to communities in post-pandemic efforts to best support resilience. The proposed study builds on recommendations provided by youth who participated in a recent small pilot study which identified multiple facets of youth and community resilience. In that preliminary study, youth highlighted the notion of connection as being an important concept leading to resilience when physically isolated. This study would 1) Add to our limited understanding of the psychosocial impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic 2) Design, together with youth leaders, a way to identify a comprehensive list of cultural and community aspects of connection believed to contribute to resilience: several culturally sanctioned research approaches will be considered in consultation with the youth. 3) Investigate additional and alternative ways of creating connection in a technological age. 4) Identify, together with youth, existing as well as wished-for social structures and systems that may further support connection and resilience during a pandemic. 5) Situate resulting findings in a culturally-embedded philosophical framework-Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ)-to allow for a richer and more accurate understanding of resilience.

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