Equity Concerns in the Context of COVID-19: A Focus on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Communities in Canada

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Toronto, ON: Child Welfare Research Portal.

COVID-19 and the quarantine measures put in place to stop its spread have had a devastating and far-reaching impact around the world. Since it was first detected, the virus has infected and killed people from all backgrounds, prompting some to refer to it as “the great equalizer” (Evelyn, 2020). Yet, similar to previous pandemics, the effects of this disease and related containment strategies magnify inequities, exerting a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged groups such as Indigenous peoples, visible minorities, and people of lower socioeconomic status (DeBruin et al., 2012; La Ruche et al., 2009; Uscher- Pines et al., 2007). Inequity predisposes people to the pre-existing conditions that are co-morbid with the worst cases of COVID-19 and prevents the timeliness and quality of pandemic response. While this research brief addresses the broad inequities exacerbated by COVID-19, it focuses more specifically on their potential impact on First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and communities in Canada, recognizing that current realities are shaped by racial discrimination and the ongoing legacy of colonialism. This report explores health inequities underlying COVID-19’s spread, the uneven socioeconomic burden it places on communities, and the need to adequately prepare and respond using a social justice lens.

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