top of page
  • Kim Senklip Harvey

The Plight of Indigenous Peoples During the Pandemic.

The canadian state is sending “negative pressure tents" to reserves. What a fucking name.

It’s minus fucking 17 on my Tsilhqot’in reserve, with significant snowfall. Nobody would survive in a god damn tent. Especially not those with COVID-19.

On twitter, in response to this article Joanne Hammond said, “Indigenous communities need test kits, respiratory equipment, clean water, and prepared nurses. Without that, these are tents for people to die in.”

If the pandemic started hitting reservations and our remote communities, especially ones that been deeply impacted by imperial colonialism, the impact would be devastating.

For the canadian state has done everything they can to position us for death:

No water.

Little to no health care.

Insufficient housing.

Crumbling infrastructure.

Our families are under constant attack. So many already alone, without phones and modes of communication.

A significant number of Indigenous peoples have compromised immune systems from the residential school genocide programs.

This pandemic is really triggering, Interior Salish were almost decimated by smallpox.

During the Cold War the government dropped leaflets on reserves saying “if a nuclear bomb goes off, just crouch near a fence.”

During the 2017 fires, the federal government left the Tsilhqot’in to burn.

The violent history of the imperial canadian state, harming or abandoning Indigenous communities during a crisis, communities they isolated and deliberately positioned on remote and often unsustainable pieces of land, is long and traumatic.

We are worried about our Elders, we are worried about our language speakers, we are worried about these imperial systems killing off our communities.

I‘m reading Twitter this morning and there are so many messages from Indigenous folks, in particular academics and artists saying, working is too vexed at the moment.

Many of us who are privileged enough to be at school, have many family and community responsibilities, so our roles have shifted. My focus is on ensuring my family and communities are ok. We are in this protection mode and not in a place to, “hit the books“ and tackle essays, projects, grants and scripts.

We also have access to up to date information that some of our communities don't, so our focus is on information dissemination.

They say it takes 25 mins to recover from a phone alert, to regain focus, back to the original task. None of this liaising and relating is conducive to getting into deep work mode.

If you’re an employer, think about what your Indigenous staff are going through.

If you’re teacher, think about what your Indigenous students might be experiencing.

If you’re a friend, check in on your Indigenous slaxts.

The colonial state positioning of Indigenous peoples continues to perpetuate inequities. We are being asked to act and deliver like business as usual - and I’m telling you it’s not.

Our spiritual nourishment, ceremonies of all kinds are being precautiously put on hold. In a time when many of us so desperately need to be gathering, a form of ceremony, we can’t. This detrimentally impacts our minds, bodies and spirits.

If you’re in a position of power intersecting with Indigenous peoples, I urgently ask you to respond with the knowledge that Indigenous peoples are under a significant amount of stress and our colonial positioning is tremendously different than non-Indigenous peoples.

These past few months have been a lot. This morning I tweeted:

Push grant deadlines.

Push academic deadlines.

Respond equitably.

These are the responsibilities of institutional powers engaging with Indigenous peoples. Getting us into post-secondary institutions and high level art practice, is only one step.

Take a moment to think about this happening to your loved ones, your families, your communities. They sent body bags last time, this time they just sent bigger ones and called them tents.

This is what Indigenous peoples are navigating.

This is your canada.

With boundless love for my people,


Photo by Kar Harvey.

bottom of page