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A conversation with Pam Palmater on COVID, racism, and Indigenous communities

Speaker: Dr.Pam Palmater, Mi’kmaq lawyer, professor, activist and politician. Interviewed by Stephania Varalli, Co-CEO, Head of Media at Women of Influence 


Within the first few minutes of the conversation, one thing is clear: it is impossible to understand the impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous people living in Canada without knowledge of the centuries of struggle that came before it, and the racism, oppression, and genocide that they were experiencing already.

On these topics, Dr. Pamela Palmater is an authority — a result of more than 25 years of focus on First Nations issues, studying, volunteering, advocating, and working as a lawyer, Associate Professor, and the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. A Mi’kmaw citizen and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick, Pam has spoken internationally on Indigenous issues and authored three books on the subject; her latest, Warrior Life: Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence, just became available for preorder.

We spoke with Pam on June 3, the one-year anniversary of the release of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. On the same day, Pam published an article that shows through statistics that Canada has a racism problem, and Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check.

And so the conversation started not on COVID, but on injustice.







June 3, 2020 – one year of Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls


COVID as an excuse


Lack of sex and race data collection during the pandemic 


The most at-risk group without a plan and funding


Delays in the pandemic within First Nations communities


Indigenous land, the pipeline and a violation of basic human rights


Equal rights for everyone


Growing up in Canada without knowing about the genocide and racism around us


What is a good Canadian ally?


Lifting other voices and why change does not come overnight