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One little, too little: Counting Canada's indigenous people for improved health reporting
- The study sought to improve how Canada produces health data on Indigenous peoples.
- We innovatively linked, back to 1984, a national Indian registry to Manitoba provincial data.
- Key to the linkage was a social-legal analysis of how Canada defined Indians.
- Analysis informed a family linkage to find children missed due to legal ineligibility.
- Study showed how innovative data linkages could address misclassification bias.
The way state governments, worldwide, count or do not count Indigenous peoples has contributed to inconsistent reporting of Indigenous health statistics. To address unreliable reporting in Canada, we reviewed laws on Indian status and the development of a national Indian Registration System (IRS) to track Indian status and eligibility. With this information as a guide, we linked the IRS to the Manitoba provincial health registry systems and were able to identify individuals with Indian status for health reporting. To improve reporting, we identified individuals often missed in this type of linkage. For instance, we identified children and adult children who were eligible for Indian status but not yet registered. Equally as important, we identified individuals not eligible for Indian status but have Indian heritage and/or represent potential individual Indian status eligibility cases before the courts to right a historic form of identity sex discrimination that has made them invisible in Canadian society and health reporting. A familial kinship approach was used to identify Indian children and adult children typically missed when a strict legal entitlement criteria is used for data linkage. Our reflective socio-legal data linkage approach expanded the number of Indian peoples for health reporting purposes and demonstrated a feasible, inclusive way to report on the health of Indians in Canada.
- Indian status;
- Data linkage;
- Health administrative databases;
- Indigenous rights
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