In Her Circle studied the experiences of 43 Indigenous women and Two-Spirit individuals from all five health authorities in British Columbia. Interviews were conducted online and over the phone to better understand Indigenous women’s health status and their health priorities during the pandemic.
The study authors acknowledge limitations relative to the report’s language, noting that in order to protect confidentiality, the term “Indigenous women” is used for all participants, including those who identify as Two-Spirit.
Indigenous women shared their stories of isolation, resilience, community, and issues accessing health care. These stories informed recommendations to ensure Indigenous women have equitable access to high-quality health care when, where, and how they need it.
Findings highlighted that health care inequities were amplified due to the pandemic. These included difficulties in accessing mental health services, long wait times to see specialists, and loss of community health programs. This publication follows and reflects the findings from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s 2020 report In Plain Sight, which detailed the findings of an independent investigation of allegations of anti-Indigenous racism in British Columbia’s health care system. In February 2021, Turpel-Lafond released a comprehensive data report as an update to In Plain Sight. The updated report concluded that due to lack of access to family doctors and other primary care services, Indigenous people in BC are 75 per cent more likely to access emergency rooms when experiencing health crises.
In Her Circle provides 20 evidence-based recommendations to help improve the health care system for Indigenous women in BC. These are organized into six categories:
- Health care inclusive of holistic health
- Cultural safety and anti-racism
- Mental health and addiction supports
- Models of care
- Community wellness
- Policy level