Niikaniganaw (All My Relations) II – the COVID‑19 Rapid Response: Indigenous approaches to synthesizing knowledge for culturally-safe and stigma free mental health care for under-served Indigenous communities in Ottawa-Gatineau
Developing capacity for stigma free and culturally safe care in health and social service providers is an urgent and critical need in Ottawa-Gatineau. The Niikaniganaw model outlined in Phase 1 (CIHR catalyst grant, 2018) and 2 (CIHR operating grant HIV/AIDS CBR, 2020) is designed to address this need in existing health and social service providers. We are also committed to building capacity for stigma free and culturally safe care in students who will be the future health or social service professionals. In this COVID‑19 rapid response grant, we will focus on the following questions: 1) How is COVID‑19 affecting the mental health of Indigenous community members in Ottawa-Gatineau who are living with or affected by HIV or related issues, such as substance use, mental illness, poverty, or homelessness? How are they receiving / adapting to the standard public health messaging? 2)What is the effect of COVID‑19 on the mental health of health and social service providers who serve these communities? 3)What does culturally-safe and stigma free care in health and social services look like in the age of COVID-19, and by extension, future pandemics or remote / isolated environments? 4)How can we develop capacity for culturally-safe and stigma free mental health care for under-served Indigenous communities in Ottawa-Gatineau in the context of COVID-19? Building from previous experience and existing relationships with university academics, community partners, NGOs, social and health services providers, indigenous and non-indigenous, we will adapt the Niikaniganaw model to the COVID‑19 context, and offer ‘virtual’ sharing circles and ceremonies to answer these questions. These sharing circles will be co-facilitated by researchers and Indigenous Knowledge Carriers. We will document and evaluate the challenges and opportunities of providing virtual sharing circles and ceremonies in real world with indigenous approaches of synthesizing knowledge and healing.