Indigenous People’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic: Conceptualizing concepts of risk and health through an Indigenous midwifery-led approach
How do pregnant Indigenous Peoples in Ontario conceptualize health and risk before and during the COVID‑19 pandemic in the context of maternity care? Using Indigenous feminist theory, Indigenous feminist methodology, qualitative interviewing using an open-ended questionnaire with Indigenous participants who have or will experience evacuation for birth before or during the COVID‑19 pandemic, we will: 1) Investigate how Indigenous Peoples who are pregnant conceptualize pregnancy related health and risk and how this informs their navigation of public health measures before and during the COVID‑19 pandemic. 2) Document the strategies employed by Indigenous Peoples to maintain their spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental health and wellness when facing evacuation for birth and how this has been affected by the COVID‑19 pandemic. 3) Explore the effects of the COVID‑19 restrictions in relation to evacuation for birth and their impacts on the cultural webbing of Indigenous communities in Ontario during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Our research team, comprised of scholars, Indigenous midwives, and health policy analysts will address a gap in our knowledge about the weighing of risk Indigenous Peoples undertake when accessing healthcare systems and how this affects both their cultural fabric and health-related decision-making process. This proposal builds on research conducted in the spring of 2021 regarding the impact of the pandemic on evacuation for birth in Ontario, that concluded Indigenous Peoples in Ontario receive substandard care, care that is jeopardized by complicated, disconnected healthcare systems. The research will be led by an Indigenous NPA with strong Indigenous leadership and will contribute knowledge to further the meaningful development of maternity care policies and programming that is reflective of the experiences of Indigenous Peoples who live in and access maternity care in Ontario during the COVID‑19 pandemic.