The Cedar Project: Preparing for culturally-safe, trauma informed COVID‑19 response among young Indigenous people who use drugs in Prince George and Vancouver, BC

Spittal, Patricia M | $549,258

British Columbia University of British Columbia 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

Indigenous people who use drugs in BC are facing two public health emergencies: COVID‑19 and the ongoing overdose crisis. One may create additional risk for the other. On one hand, substance use may increase COVID‑19 risk through sharing smoking/injection equipment; creating barriers to physical distancing; and housing instability. On the other hand, COVID‑19 and its response may increase overdose risk due to rollback of harm reduction services, banning of guests in social housing, and forcible closure of encampments – pushing people to use drugs alone. Pandemic fears and restrictions may also impact mental wellbeing. Our study assesses the impact of COVID‑19 and the pandemic response, as well as its domino effects, among Indigenous people who use drugs. We will also adapt, implement, and determine the feasibility of offering a bundle of strengths-based, wraparound virtual supports using an existing software and weekly text messaging check-ins with trusted case managers. The study will inform a culturally-safe, trauma-informed COVID‑19 response among Indigenous people who use drugs.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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