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Data, data everywhere, nor any a data to think...

Okay, a poor pun on a great poem (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner) but this article on disaggregated data to help the Indigenous response to Covid-19 highlights an long-standing issue in the Canadian and other health sectors.


"Traditional health data collection is based on a high level of aggregation and reveals limited information about the severity of the impact of the virus on vulnerable and marginalized Canadians. Those include Black Canadians, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, women, older people living alone or in institutions and low income communities who have unequal access to health care, child care and are often underemployed."


In an age of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, the risks of unethical, illegal, even violent surveillance on Indigenous communities is a risk we could be forgiven for having a certain paranoia about as ongoing racism continues to violently impact on the cultures, lands, and bodies of Indigenous Peoples. While many health researchers are meeting the ethical challenges in working with Indigenous communities, this commentary draws attention to the often-uncritical adaption or use of digital tools. Many digital technologies, deliberately or accidently, lend themselves to overt or covert surveillance of communities. Indigenous resistance to surveillance must be understood in the context of colonization, and reassurances must be provided if the benefits of new technologies are to be fully realized for better Indigenous health outcomes.Ongoing racism continues to violently impact on the cultures, lands, and bodies of Indigenous Peoples. While many health researchers are meeting the ethical challenges in working with Indigenous communities, this commentary draws attention to the often-uncritical adaption or use of digital tools. Many digital technologies, deliberately or accidently, lend themselves to overt or covert surveillance of communities. Indigenous resistance to surveillance must be understood in the context of colonization, and reassurances must be provided if the benefits of new technologies are to be fully realized for better Indigenous health outcomes.


[Link to this Short commentary here]




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Composed by Faumuina Felolini Maria Tafuna’i for the Values Compass of the Edmund Hillary Fellowship, with input from the Kāhui Māori. 1. You are your own teacher and must educate yourself about Te Ti