Background Content

Call to Action # 55: National Council for Reconciliation (53-56)

Colonialism of the Curve

May 12, 2020

May 12, 2020 – The following highlights some of the significant barriers to the availability of accurate and reliable Indigenous specific data for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.

Why the Data Discrepancy?

Publicly accessible data makes it easier for Indigenous people to seek accountability from leaders, and to independently evaluate and measure the efficacy of interventions by all levels of government, including our own Indigenous leadership. In fact, this is probably one of the reasons why we don’t have it.

There is a significant difference in the reported data. According to our research, there are more than triple the cases reported by ISC. How can there be such a discrepancy?

OrganizationReported CasesReported Deaths on Reserve
Indigenous Services Canada1752
Yellowhead Institute4657

COVID-19 Reported Cases and Deaths as of May 10, 2020

NOTE: ISC data only represents BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario  and Quebec and does not include off reserve or the urban Indigenous population (over 50% )

  • First, there is no agency or organization in Canada reliably recording and releasing Covid-19 data that indicates whether or not a person is Indigenous.
  • The public health agencies that report on the number of Covid-19 cases, deaths, recovery, and tests vary in their structure and relationship to local Indigenous people and their communities.
  • And since very few First Nations actually have local control over the delivery of public health, the majority rely on provincial public health services, regardless of whether or not they live on-reserve.
  • Many public services that Indigenous people’s access do not collect disaggregated data that includes racial or ethnic identity of clients, which makes it almost impossible for any racialized community to seek accountability for poorer outcomes or service based on racial discrimination.
  • The jurisdictional fight between provinces and the federal government, where both claim the other is responsible for services, more often than not leaves Indigenous people without any services.

This patchwork of service is a direct result of colonialism. The establishment of provinces and division of powers between provincial and federal government has gradually displaced and disrupted Indigenous governance over time. Canadian federalism was established to serve Canadians and consequently maintains discrimination and sub-standard service delivery in on-reserve communities.

These data issues are not limited to the health sector. The same gaps in data collection exist in child welfare and were a primary reason why the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls were unable to definitively identify the number of Indigenous women who have been murdered or are missing.