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May 10, 2020

HQC board member Carrie Bourassa contributes to local, federal COVID-19 initiatives

HQC board member Carrie Bourassa is working on local and federal initiatives regarding population health and COVID-19.

Bourassa was recently named the Indigenous Engagement Lead for the federal COVID-19 Immunity Task Force. The task force will set priorities and oversee the coordination of a series of Canada-wide blood test surveys. This information will help provide reliable estimates of potential immunity and vulnerabilities of Canadian populations.

Bourassa said she wants to ensure that Indigenous perspectives are well represented in the task force’s work.

“We’re working to create mechanisms that ensure the task force provides advice on Indigenous issues, concerns and engagement on an ongoing basis. We also want to make sure Indigenous Peoples are involved and that their expertise is included in this process,” Bourassa said.

This two-year, $350-million task force was announced on April 23, 2020. Information collected by the task force will help inform future immunization strategies when a vaccine is discovered.

Along with her role on HQC’s Board of Directors, Bourassa is a professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, as well as the scientific director of the CIHR Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health.

‘Protecting the Home Fires’

While there is a nation-wide focus on a federal task force, Bourassa has also been involved in Saskatchewan-based initiatives in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

Bourassa, along with Morning Star Lodge, an Indigenous community-based health research lab in Regina, have launched a strategy to provide Indigenous communities with up-to-date information on COVID-19. Dubbed “Protecting our Home Fires,” this resource also offers strategies that Indigenous community members can use keep themselves and their families safe and active during the pandemic.

“The resource aims to provide relevant and culturally-safe information to Indigenous communities served by Morning Star Lodge,” Bourassa explained. “The name ‘Protecting our Home Fires’ refers to the traditional practice of protecting the home fire, a place where family and community comes together for warmth, food, and storytelling. It is a place where you would nourish not only your physical needs, but also your mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. 

“Through this strategy, we’re hoping to create a virtual place where the community can gather for culturally-appropriate and timely information in order to help prevent COVID-19 transmission.”

New information and informative YouTube videos have been posted on Morning Star Lodge’s blog and social media channels every Tuesday since the “Protecting our Home Fires” Strategy was launched late March.

Past topics include guidelines to avoid touching surfaces, how to stay active in quarantine, how to make cedar tea and how to practice physical distancing. Also included are a COVID-19 clinical-based fact sheet for Indigenous communities, as well as a community-focused information sheet. These resources were created under the guidance of Bourassa regarding the design, editing, and endorsement.

The fact and information sheets, as well as the other resources are available online at http://www.indigenoushealthlab.com/blog.