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COVID-19 Pandemic: Realities and Needs of First Nations Living in Urban Areas

principal investigators

Amanda Canapé, Marie-Eve Poitras,

Kate Bacon,

Sharon Hatcher


Research Chair in Best Professional Practices in Primary Care

study setting

Saguenay Native Friendship Center


COVID-19, First Nations, urban environment, needs, Indigenous people


According to Statistics Canada's 2016 census, there are approximately 6,500 Indigenous people, including 1,760 First Nations, living in the Saguenay region. Most are from the Innu and Atikamekw communities. The third alternate between the city and the community and the majority come for studies or work. In the COVID-19 pandemic context, it is possible to believe that the stakes and their needs are even greater. Responding to needs means better understanding the concerns, available services and perceived service gaps by Aboriginal people. The current COVID-19 pandemic can be difficult for Indigenous people to perceive. This project arose out of the need of the Saguenay Native Friendship Center to better understand the needs of the Native people who frequent their center in order to offer services that meet these needs. Thus, it was in the winter of 2020 that this wonderful adventure began.

What are our goals?

  1. Describe the needs of Aboriginal people living in urban areas in a COVID-19 pandemic context

  2. Prioritize the needs that can be met by the representatives of the CAAS in partnership with the representatives of the CIUSSS of the SLSJ

  3. Develop strategies and service offers that could better meet the needs of Aboriginal people living in urban areas in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

How? 'Or' What?

This descriptive qualitative participatory research was carried out through sharing circles; a key concept in Aboriginal culture where everyone comes together and discusses a topic. The sharing circles made it possible to collect the ideas and suggestions of Aboriginal people living in urban areas, with regard to the four spheres of health of Aboriginal culture: spiritual, mental, physical and emotional. Thus, 5 meetings took place: 3 in the presence and 2 with a digital platform in order to respect the sanitary instructions. Finally, a Survey Monkey web survey was put online where participants were able to prioritize the implementation of the desired services.

What results do we have so far?

At the end of the data collection and analyzes, it was possible for the team to establish the needs that must be met by an appropriate service offer. Among the elements mentioned by the participants, we note, among others, a support service with an interpreter during hospital visits, online workshops on various themes related to indigenous culture and for entertainment, a shapituan. and a gathering place in the natural environment as well as the distribution of food baskets.

Photo lors du cercle de partage avec le centre d'amitié autochtone du Saguenay et Marie-Eve Poitras - recherche - chaire

Part of the research team and participants during the Sharing Circle with the elder Marcel Pwtitkwe, October 2020.

L'eau de mer

What they said

- Young Innu woman

"Watching the Prime Minister every day tell us that the number of cases was increasing, it was just so stressful"

Affiche présentant les résultats de l'étude

Vous pouvez parcourir les différentes étapes du projet et les résultats à travers cette affiche. Elle a d'ailleurs remporté le prix "Coup de coeur du public" lors de la Journée annuelle de Réseau-1 Québec en juin 2021!

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