Protective Factors For Mental Health And Well-Being In A Changing Climate: Perspectives From Inuit Youth In Nunatsiavut, Labrador
Petrasek MacDonald, J., Cunsolo-Willox, A., Ford, J.D., Shiwak, I., Wood, M., the IMHACC Team, and the Rigolet Inuit Community Government. (In Press). Access PDF here. Social Science & Medicine.
The Canadian Arctic is experiencing rapid changes in climatic conditions, with implications for Inuit communities widely documented. Youth have been identified as an at-risk population, with likely impacts on mental health and well-being. This study identifies and characterizes youth-specific protective factors that enhance well-being in light of a rapidly changing climate, and examines how climatic and environmental change challenges these. In-depth conversational interviews were conducted with youth aged 15-25 from the five communities of the Nunatsiavut region of Labrador, Canada: Nain, Hopedale, Postville, Makkovik, and Rigolet. Five key protective factors were identified as enhancing their mental health and well-being: being on the land; connecting to Inuit culture; strong communities; relationships with family and friends; and staying busy. Changing sea ice and weather conditions were widely reported to be compromising these protective factors by reducing access to the land, and increasing the danger of land-based activities. This study contributes to existing work on Northern climate change adaptation by identifying factors that enhance youth resilience and, if incorporated into adaptation strategies, may contribute to creating successful and effective adaptation responses.
Notes from the field: An update from the Evaluating Indigenous Vulnerability and Adaptation Research (EIVAR) project
Update by Tom Marcello.
Arriving for an interview in the Shawi community of Nuevo Progreso, Mya Sherman and I are greeted by the entire family. Catching the family while they are home during the day can sometimes require a few visits, as the whole family unit frequently goes together to work in their chakra (agricultural field), which can be more than an hour’s walk away. When we are lucky enough to find a family, we are immediately invited to sit down. A clay bowl called a mocahua is soon presented to each of us and we begin to consume the masato that lies inside. read more…
Ford, J.D. 2015. View PDF here. Regional Environmental Change. 15(6), 1035-1038.
Champalle, C., Ford, J.D., and Sherman, M. 2015. Access PDF here. Sustainability. 7:9268-9292.
Arctic regions are experiencing the most rapid climate change globally and adaptation has been identified as a priority across scales. Anticipatory planning to adapt to the impacts of climate change usually follows a number of steps: assess current and future vulnerability, identify potential adaptations, prioritize options, implement prioritized options, and monitor and evaluate implementation. While most of these steps are well documented, there has been limited examination of the process of adaptation prioritization in Arctic communities. In this paper, we build upon existing tools and propose a framework for prioritizing adaptation options and guiding decision-making for implementation in Arctic regions. Using four adaptation performance criteria (timescale, equity, sustainability and total costs) to evaluate options through a multi-criteria decision analysis coupled with a network centric approach, our Adaptation Prioritization Framework promotes a participatory approach for adaptation prioritization and planning. We illustrate application of the framework using a hypothetical example from the territory of Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic.
Harper, S.L., Edge, V.L., Ford, J., Cunsolo-Willox, A., Wood, M., IHACC Reseach Team, RICG and McEwen, S.A. 2015. Access PDF here. BMC Public Health. 15:605
Background: This exploratory study used participatory methods to identify, characterize, and rank climate-sensitive health priorities in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, Canada.
Methods: A mixed method study design was used and involved collecting both qualitative and quantitative data at regional, community, and individual levels. In-depth interviews with regional health representatives were conducted throughout Nunatsiavut (n = 11). In addition, three PhotoVoice workshops were held with Rigolet community members (n = 11), where participants took photos of areas, items, or concepts that expressed how climate change is impacting their health. The workshop groups shared their photographs, discussed the stories and messages behind them, and then grouped photos into re-occurring themes. Two community surveys were administered in Rigolet to capture data on observed climatic and environmental changes in the area, and perceived impacts on health, wellbeing, and lifestyles (n = 187).
Results: Climate-sensitive health pathways were described in terms of inter-relationships between environmental and social determinants of Inuit health. The climate-sensitive health priorities for the region included food security, water security, mental health and wellbeing, new hazards and safety concerns, and health services and delivery.
Conclusions: The results highlight several climate-sensitive health priorities that are specific to the Nunatsiavut region, and suggest approaching health research and adaptation planning from an EcoHealth perspective.
Keywords: Canada, Climate change, Health, Inuit, Nunatsiavut, EcoHealth
Dr. James Ford and Anna Bunce will we presenting at the Our Common Futures Under Climate Change Conference. Organized under the umbrella of ICSU, Future Earth, UNESCO and major French research institutions, with the support of the French Government, the Conference will be held ahead of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, which is planned to take place in Paris later this year. Building on the results of IPCC 5th Assessment Report (AR5), the Conference will address key issues concerning climate change in the broader context of global change. Organized around daily themes, the event will focus on moving from present knowledge to future solutions.
For more information, see the list of our team’s planned activities read more…
Jolène Labbé (CCARG and TRAC3 research team member) recently returned from a two-week research trip to Iqaluit, Nunavut where she spoke with a variety of decision-makers, policy creators and project managers from nearly all Government of Nunavut Departments to help understand the role both climate change and adaptation play in policy, planning and decision-making within the territory. This is part of a larger joint CCARG/TRAC3 Evaluating adaptation to Climate Change in Nunavut, Canada research project working in partnership with the Climate Change Section of the Government of Nunavut that aims to describe the current state of adaptation to climate change in Nunavut and evaluate adaptation readiness at the federal, territorial, and community levels. The goal is to use a combination of baseline adaptation data and interviews with key stakeholders to provide a ‘big picture’ understanding of the current climate change adaptation landscape within Nunavut. It focuses on understanding factors such as institutional organization, decision-making, funding, stakeholder engagement, partnerships and communication, and Inuit Qaujimanituqangit among other things. Throughout the summer, Jolène will continue key stakeholder interviews with individuals from the federal government departments. read more…
Mya Sherman featured in National Geographic article on Amazonian biodiversity, health and livelihoods
Mya Sherman, who conducted her M.A. in Geography from 2012-2014 with a Shipibo community as a component of IHACC research in Peru, and who had been working with the project since 2011, was interviewed a few weeks ago by National Geographic Explorer Barbara Fraser while in the country. The story, featuring Mya and other researchers, can be found here.
Research graduate trainee and TRAC3 team member, Melanie Flynn has just arrived back from spending four weeks in the community of Arviat, located on the west coast of Hudson Bay. Melanie was conducting semi-structured interviews in order to evaluate a Terrain Analysis project which has been ongoing in the community over that past four years. The Terrain project has been mapping ground movement in Arviat and six other Nunavut communities to determine future development suitability.
Looking back at the IHACC Annual Meeting 2015, hosted by the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
This year, the IHACC Annual Meetings were hosted by the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford (IHACC Primary Investigators Dr. Ford and Dr. Berrang-Ford’s alma mater) on May 27th to the 29th. The event was a great opportunity for team members form across regions to come together, be reflexive of what IHACC has achieved over the last four years, and work on a solid strategy for the project as it enters into its final year. Team members also had the opportunity to catch up, visit the many Colleges, gardens and meadows in and around the University, and have a taste of typical British foods. read more…
Dylan Clark has spent the past month in Arviat, Nunavut helping establish an ice monitoring program and working on his masters research. This is the first summer Dylan has ventured north to do field work, and although it has been vastly different from his usual migration south to East Africa, he is feeling at home in Arviat.
As a CCARG student, Dylan is researching land safety across Nunavut. The project includes a territory-wide analysis of weather and ice affects on search and rescue events, and community based research in hamlets with the highest and lowest incidence rates. While in Arviat, Dylan has been interviewing search and rescue committee members, health officials, and hunters. He has also spent time getting to know community members by helping out with radio shows, volunteering with the Arviat Film Society, playing bingo, and tagging along with the fire department on a snow melting mission. He has also been taking every opportunity to go out on the land with hunters, including a seal hunting trip and three-day fishing trip. read more…
Inuit Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Subsistence Hunting and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Canadian Arctic
Pearce, T., Ford, J., Cunsolo-Willox, A., and B. Smit. 2015. Find PDF here. Arctic. 68(2): 233-245.
This paper examines the role of Inuit traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in adaptation to climate change in the Canadian Arctic. It focuses on Inuit relationships with the Arctic environment, including hunting knowledge and land skills, and examines their roles in adaptation to biophysical changes that affect subsistence hunting. In several instances, TEK underpins competency in subsistence and adaptations to changing conditions, which includes flexibility with regard to seasonal cycles of hunting and resource use, hazard avoidance through detailed knowledge of the environment and understanding of ecosystem processes, and emergency preparedness, e.g., knowing what supplies to take when traveling and how to respond in emergency situations. Despite the documented importance of TEK in adaptation and in maintaining a level of competency in subsistence, the relationships between TEK and adaptation to climate change are not well defined in the scholarly literature. This paper aims to conceptualize the relationships between TEK and adaptation to climate change by drawing on case study research with Inuit in the Canadian Arctic. TEK is considered an element of adaptive capacity (or resilience) that is expressed as adaptation if TEK is drawn upon to adapt to changing conditions. This capacity depends on the development, accumulation, and transmission of TEK within and among generations.
On Monday June 1st, three IHACC students from McGill University obtained their degrees at the Spring 2015 Convocation Ceremony. We would like to congratulate Sierra Clark (B.A. Geography Honours, Supervisor: Dr. Lea Berrang-Ford, Research location: Uganda), Joanna Petrasek Macdonald (M.A. Geography, Supervisor: Dr. James Ford, Research location: Canadian Arctic), and Michelle Maillet (M.A. Geography, Supervisor: Dr. James Ford, Research location: Global) on their success.
Clark, S. (2015) The Burden and Lived Experience of Acute Gastrointestinal Illness in an Indigenous Batwa Population in Southwestern Uganda. Undergraduate Honours thesis. Department of Geography, McGill University.
Petrasek Macdonald, J. (2015) From the minds of youth: exploring Inuit youth resilience within a changing climate and applications for climate change adaptation in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, Canada. M.A. thesis. Department of Geography, McGill University.
Maillet, M. (2015) Is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change an effective (or appropriate) institution for supporting Indigenous peoples’ adaptation to climate change? M.A. thesis. Department of Geography, McGill University.
Anna Bunce presented at the Canadian Anthropological Society (CASCA). Her talk, titled “Inuit Women’s Berry Picking: Lessons on Gender, Procurement, Well-Being and the Environment” explored the relationships Inuit women have with berry picking across Canada’s north based on the findings of her own research along with that of Drs. Martha Dowsley (Lakehead University), and Scott Heyes (University of Canberra). Why has berry picking persisted among Inuit women? What role does berry picking play in the lives and identities of Inuit women? These questions were explored in the Re-Conception of Landscapes Session on May 13th.