Good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to appear before the committee, which is doing very important work.
When I look at how the handling of the COVID-19 crisis is being experienced in Indigenous communities, one thing stands out for me: the marked difference between the measures adopted or desired by Indigenous leaders and those adopted by non-Indigenous communities.
The divide is especially prominent in the regions, where we have seen Indigenous communities adopt much more stringent measures more quickly than their non-Indigenous neighbours. For example, most First Nations in Quebec locked down their communities rapidly to prevent the virus from getting in. We have also seen First Nations keep certain services and activities closed, while the province has reopened them.
Why is there such a difference? I submit two possible answers. The first is related to health reasons. As you know, Indigenous peoples are at a higher risk than others of contracting COVID-19, particularly because of their specific health, social and economic circumstances. Obesity, diabetes and a history of disease...