Centre for the North BlogsFast-Tracked Innovations: Could COVID-19 Accelerate Health Technologies in Canada’s North?
by Ken Coates, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation and Carin Holroyd, Associate Professor, University of Saskatchewan and Joelena Leader, Research Facilitator, Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan | April 2020
The coronavirus crisis of 2020 has exposed the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian health care system. This is particularly true in Canada’s North, where isolated Indigenous communities face the prospects of widespread infection with great anxiety. The remoteness of Northern settlements—coupled with serious housing shortages, overcrowded homes, and limited health care services—heighten the dangers of the pandemic.Addressing the causes of Indigenous vulnerability to pandemics—not just the symptoms
by Oana Spinu, Senior Research Associate I, The Conference Board of Canada and Jordan Wapass, Principal Research Associate, The Conference Board of Canada | March 2020
Many have rightfully called for decisive government action to ensure that Indigenous communities have essential resources to respond to COVID-19. In response to the immediate needs of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, the federal government announced $305 million for a distinctions-based Indigenous Communities Support Fund. Only time will tell how effective the fund will be in empowering communities to deal with the crisis.
Over the past 30 years, major project agreements (MPAs) between Indigenous communities and natural resources companies have become the cornerstone of successful development projects in Canada. It is increasingly clear that without MPAs, the likelihood of major projects proceeding is significantly reduced and that partnerships between Indigenous communities and industry are now the norm, not the exception. Corporate and Indigenous community leaders emphasize the need of having MPAs to build trust, improve certainty, and establish joint economic development opportunities.
During The Tragically Hip’s final concert in Kingston last month, lead singer Gord Downie took a moment to reflect on the situation facing many Indigenous peoples in Canada. During his powerful callout to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian population at large, Downie spoke of the urgent need for change—and there is clear evidence to support this.
Canada is moving through some significant changes in its relationship with Aboriginal people. And as we approach Aboriginal Awareness Week (May 24 to 27), we wanted to take a moment to place a spotlight on two recent and important decisions.
The very climatic changes that are opening up Northern waters to exploration and shipping are the same changes that are making these activities more difficult.
Blessed with natural resource endowments, the North has lots of potential for economic growth. But this does not mean that natural resource development automatically leads to sustainable Northern community development. How we prepare and plan for growth in the North will largely determine how that growth benefits Northerners for generations to come.