An Indigenous-led response to COVID‑19 that supports communities responding to challenges such as vaccine hesitancy, unique variants and any long-term impacts of Covid into the future.
COVID‑19 has now resulted in 139,489,426 cases and 2,993,200 deaths worldwide. Impacts have particularly affected Indigenous, Black and other people of colour and revealed underlying systemic health and social inequities. In this country, Indigenous people are more likely to test positive, be hospitalized and die from Covid than other Canadians. They are also more likely to be vaccine hesitant, reflecting longstanding harms by and suspicions of medical science and the government. This proposed work builds on the activities of our Indigenous-led Kitatipithitamak Mithwayawin project as we work with Indigenous communities across Canada as they respond to Covid. Over the last year, we have built a social network of >2,300 followers on our project Facebook page. This network reflects the impacts of our ongoing communications and outreach (total >150,000 views) and the recent release of our digital App (Indigenous COVID-19). The App will be used by Indigenous communities across the country to provide local, holistic and community-controlled health data in real-time. In this proposal, we will use the App to further our work in 15 Indigenous communities across Canada and complement these activities with additional surveys and interviews. This work is grounded in both public health and in local cultural traditions. It will focus on vaccine and vaccine hesitancy in communities. Importantly, it will also assess any impacts of new variants, better serve “long-haulers” that continue to suffer adverse impacts, and assess what effects any pre-existing health conditions have on recovery. The data will be owned and controlled by each community and will help support local health directors. They will also help inform our own Covid-related communications, which will in turn help build community confidence in and uptake of public health measures. In so doing we will support communities as they recover from Covid and navigate an uncertain post-Covid future together.