Standing Together: Strength, Resilience, and Indigenous leadership as the Pathway to Pandemic Responses
The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) works with First Nations in BC to respond to the COVID‑19 pandemic with culturally safe, community-driven services. First Nations health leaders expertly navigate barriers and facilitators intrinsic to pandemic response, however, there is a gap in awareness across the system in relation to strategies, successes and opportunities for improvement related to COVID-19. Our project brings together Indigenous leadership to tell this story: we explore the long-term social, economic and health impacts of COVID‑19 for Indigenous Peoples in BC, and how Indigenous leadership honours and upholds First Nations rights to decision-making in Indigenous-led pandemic response. Our story is simultaneously about systemic inequities and Indigenous resistance and resilience. Using an appreciative inquiry approach, we will engage Indigenous leaders across urban, rural and remote settings to identify community-driven and self-determining efforts that protect First Nations Peoples in BC from the wide-reaching effects of COVID-19, including but limited to: mental health, substance use, delayed access to care and community health care, and workforce resilience and burnout. We will review both indexed and non-indexed literature about the long-term impacts of COVID‑19 on Indigenous populations in Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Then, we will gather stories and co-develop an Indigenous health emergency preparedness framework and toolkit, and, a public facing report with wise and promising pandemic response strategies. Leadership from all five BC health authority regions and FNHA will be invited to participate in story gathering and data validation activities. Ultimately, our project documents First Nations leadership during the COVID‑19 pandemic and creates outputs to guide future pandemic response specific to First Nations in BC.