We are currently learning what it means to live in a society that is on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we struggle to adjust to physical distancing measures, many politicians, celebrities, and health experts have attempted to boost our morale by proclaiming that “we are all in this together.” But are we? Will the pandemic and physical distancing measures—which have led to school closures and online learning, new norms of standing two metres apart in public, and a slower economy—affect all of us in the same way?
Many Indigenous communities are remote and can only be reached by plane. Manitoba’s Pimicikamak Cree Nation Chief David Monias notes that “[i]solation allows us to cut off the world from our communities” (Macyshon & Bogard, 2020). While that might seem like an advantage, Indigenous Peoples are more susceptible to COVID-19 because many live in multigenerational, overcrowded households that lack adequate sanitation. Historically, Indigenous Peoples have fared much worse in the face of pandemics.
The branding of COVID-19 by some Canadian media outlets as a “Chinese virus” is also igniting concerns among Canada’s Chinese communities. Some Chinese Canadians have reported being verbally attacked. Many are bracing themselves not just for COVID-19, but also for what is seen as an “inevitable wave of racism” (Cecco, 2020).
How does COVID-19 impact other minority groups in Canada?
Cecco, Leyland. “Canada’s Chinese Community Faces Racist Abuse in Wake of Coronavirus.” The Guardian, January 28, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/28/canada-chinese-community-battles-racist-backlash-amid-coronavirus-outbreak.
Macyshon, Jill and Nicole Bogard. “Indigenous Communities Close Their Borders in Hopes of Preventing COVID-19 Spread.” CTV News, March 21, 2020, https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/indigenous-communities-close-their-borders-in-hopes-of-preventing-covid-19-spread-1.4863166.