Especially during COVID-19, the work of IPHCC’s Ontario Indigenous Cultural Safety (ICS) Program is vital to ensure a culturally safe experience for our people. As a first response to the pandemic, our team immediately mobilized to reach out to our organizations to understand their needs. Current supports include acting as a communications hub, sourcing, and distributing personal protective equipment, capacity building for testing and assessment, participation at the Provincial Tables like Bioethics and Primary Health Care, and the creation of a Northern Indigenous COVID Response Working Group. The IPHCC does this work while actively mindful of the systemic change needed to address ongoing anti-Indigenous racism and colonial structures. This work is done vigorously as the Council continues to pursue wholistic health equity for our people and communities.
The pursuit of health equity is at the core of our members active response to the crisis. By remaining open and operational during the entire provincial shutdown, IPHCC members have been able to provide numerous vital services. These include testing of Indigenous clients for COVID-19, transportation to and from testing sites, supporting existing testing sites with staff, use of a mobile van to bring testing to vulnerable clients, and providing testing on-reserve when requested. Additional support for distributing food and other supplies, outreach to isolated community members, additional consumption treatment services, working in expanded scopes to help keep patients out of the hospital and more.
As IPHCC celebrates the efforts of our staff and communities during this crisis, we remain focused on emerging needs. Our continued outreach and monitoring shows increased demands for mental health supports, traditional healing services, primary care follow-up due to delaying necessary procedures, and higher demands for testing, tracing, and tracking. These are needs that the IPHCC continues to advocate for.
During times of great change, we remain as committed as ever to the possibilities of what lies ahead with Indigenous health in Indigenous hands, while pausing to mark and celebrate our important work together on National Indigenous Peoples Day.