We are happy to announce that our research initiative has been awarded federal funding to explore the wider impacts of COVID-19 and build an archive where data and stories about Saskatchewan’s pandemic experience can be stored for future generations. Together, this represents almost $600,000 of funding, which will be used to engage people across Saskatchewan to create a comprehensive and inclusive picture of the pandemic.
Gathering data on the wider impacts
The Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) grant, led by Nazeem Muhajarine and Erika Dyck, focuses on gathering data about the wider impact of COVID-19 in the province. Research will be divided into four broad areas: mental health, substance use (especially opioids), food insecurity, and precarious housing. The goal, according to Dr. Muhajarine is to prepare for a future pandemic or disaster by “understand how we can begin to restructure, reprogram, and re-set how we provide services to people with needs.” The CIHR-funded part of the project has already developed and released a general population survey asking people across Saskatchewan about their pandemic experience, focusing on these areas of interest. This will build upon our partnerships with Mental Health Research Canada and the Mental Health Commission of Canada, who have survey data about mental health and substance use in Saskatchewan.
We also received funding for a complementary project, the COVID-19 Community Archive.
The goal is to collect and preserve important stories about the pandemic in Saskatchewan. Erika Dyck, the project co-lead, observed that ” COVID-19 has created an historic event, causing us to change how we live, grieve, cope, and co-operate.” The COVID-19 Archive, “creates capacity for measuring how communities and organizations have pivoted to provide supports and to identify sizeable gaps in our ability to care for one another.” This builds upon a partnership with the Digital Research Center at the USask, which led to the creation of the online archive and initiate web archiving shortly after the pandemic began in March 2020.
Our goal is to synergize our community engagement efforts so that we don’t overwhelm community organizations, healthcare workers and equity-seeking groups across the province.
We are standardizing our questions so they can serve both the qualitative research goals of the CIHR grant and the story preservation aspirations of the SSHRC project. While we believe strongly that the pandemic experience is worth remembering and sharing, we also recognize that many of us are tired and overwhelmed as we enter another potential COVID wave.