Robyn Long, Selma Ford, and John Crump

This paper examines how the COVID-19 pandemic has simultaneously heightened the vulnerability of Inuit communities as well as amplified collective resilience. First, we address the intersection of existing challenges to Inuit health, well-being, and social and cultural environments with the pandemic. By situating these issues within the long-standing inequities facing Inuit communities, we discuss how the pandemic has exacerbated negative outcomes at the individual, community and cultural levels. We then outline themes of Inuit-led responses to enhance collective well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Particular attention is given to responses that address overlapping issues, for example, mental health, infrastructure, and food security. We draw upon a variety of sources of information to highlight culturally grounded responses, including Inuit government agencies and corporations, nonprofit organizations, news outlets, interviews with community leaders, and partners of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. The examples provided exemplify pathways that Inuit institutions and organizations draw upon for organizing and sharing resources. Thereafter we discuss how amplifying Inuit ingenuity does not minimize the ongoing impact of social and political inequities, but rather underscores the evolving ability of Inuit institutions to respond to wide-scale social and health challenges. In conclusion, we provide insights and policy recommendations that advance Inuit communities’ management and responses to pandemics.

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