Identifying and addressing barriers to cross-sectoral and community-based wastewater surveillance for the mitigation of secondary infections in rural and remote First Nations

Black, Kerry | $250,000

Alberta The University of Calgary 2022 CIHR Operating Grant

The proposed project tracks SARS-COV2 in wastewater in First Nations in Alberta and Northwest Territories through a community-engaged approaches. The research team has effectively deployed methods within urban settings, as well as in larger First Nations in Alberta. This experience will be leveraged to address barriers in small rural and remote First Nations, utilizing community-based Indigenous-led approaches. Through implementation of wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) of SARS-COV-2 with rural/remote Alberta First Nations, contextualize and address barriers to wastewater surveillance in support of effective public health responses. The project builds on the lessons learned that point to barriers to existing wastewater surveillance programs that limit the full and meaningful participation of First Nations. Through a transdisciplinary approach, we will address: (1) the infrastructure-related barriers to meaningful wastewater surveillance programs, (2) community-led approaches to meaningful participation in the tracking of SARS-COV2, (3) collaborative and co-created response strategies to mitigate disease spread, and (4) Indigenous-centered knowledge mobilization strategies. Through a research project that spans engineering, science and medicine, and the full participation of Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, health practitioners and community members, the research will inform community vulnerability and barriers to participation. Through a collaborative approach, building on existing relationships with First Nations, the research team brings together experts in wastewater-based surveillance, models of care, community infrastructure and Indigenous knowledge. The team brings together extensive experience working with Indigenous peoples, with research underpinned by OCAP(r) and aligned in Indigenous-led methodologies.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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