Saskatchewan

Sask. professor named to federal COVID-19 Immunity Task Force

Carrie Bourassa is a professor at the University of Saskatchewan and scientific director at the CIHR Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health.

Carrie Bourassa is a professor at the University of Saskatchewan and scientific director of the IIPH

Carrie Bourassa is the scientific director at the national Institute for Indigenous Peoples' Health at the University of Saskatchewan. She spoke with reporters in June, 2019. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC News)

A Saskatchewan professor and scientific director of the Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health has been named the Indigenous Engagement Lead on the federal COVID-19 Immunity Task Force. 

Carrie Bourassa is the scientific director of the CIHR Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health and a professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan. 

"It's definitely an honour," Bourassa said. 

Bourassa said she's working with other scientific leaders to establish priorities and oversee the execution of an ambitious program of population-based health studies.

The task force is a number of amazing people coming together to guide decisions and help return to life and work in the context of COVID-19, Bourassa said.

Carrie Bourassa is the scientific director of the Institute for Indigenous Peoples' Health. (Submitted by Carrie Bourassa)

The task force will look at population studies, immune studies, and hopefully lead to needed information for vaccines and therapies, Bourassa said. Bourassa said they are working on a rapid timeline but the task force is a two year commitment.

"It's hit the ground running," Bourassa said. 

"We're definitely here to make a difference and as we have information, we will definitely be sharing it," she said. "We want to be transparent and accountable."

A Saskatchewan woman has been named to a federal COVID-19 immunity task force. Carrie Bourassa is the scientific director for the Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health. 5:30

Bourassa said as the task force gets going, there will be links across all regions and provinces. She said she wants to make sure Indigenous voices are heard and represented. 

Indigenous peoples are first people. They're sovereign nations and they have a nation to nation relationship with the crown and so we definitely want to ensure that they are involved.- Carrie Bourassa

"It is extremely important," Bourassa said. "We are developing effective mechanisms to ensure that advice on Indigenous issues, concerns and engagement is going to be provided to this task force leadership group on an ongoing basis."

"Indigenous peoples are first people. They're sovereign nations and they have a nation to nation relationship with the crown and so we definitely want to ensure that they are involved and providing their expertise into this process," she said. 

Bourassa said the task force is waiting on approval for their initial plans and then will be engaging the public in their work. 

Northern Saskatchewan has been dealing with multiple COVID-19 outbreaks. However, Bourassa said she cannot comment on Northern Saskatchewan at this time as her work is focused on the national response to COVID-19.

Bourassa also spent more than 15 years as a professor of Indigenous health studies at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina and earned her doctorate in social studies at the University of Regina. 

With files from Bryan Eneas and Heidi Atter