Join Joanna, Kaitlyn and Knut this Friday for a Fieldwork in Photos Brown Bag Seminar talk titled “For the For the Love of It: Getting up close and personal with Boil ups, Ice pans and Tuktu”.
Words, pictures and recordings by Knut Kitching
The whole building is rocking as the gusts whistle around it. Topping 100km and hour this wind will rage through the south Baffin tonight having blown up from northern Labrador. The whole of the Qikiqtaaluq region has a blizzard warning on according to Environment Canada and while we are already getting the wind, the temperatures have been rising steadily and its now a balmy -15C, and apparently we will be having snow over the next 72 hours.
Up here weather is the defining element of life.
Up here weather is the defining element of life. Some of the Iqalummiut I speak to don’t conceptualize their experiences of changing conditions as climate change, because for them there has not been any strongly discernable trend in the climate from year to year. Rather they say the change is visible in the increasing volatility and unpredictability of weather to which hunters and those travelling on the land are exposed. There are still bitterly cold winters and warmer ones, but now there are other events that make hunting more difficult, a reality the CCARG group has worked to describe through the Iqaluit Land Use Mapping Project.
Right now, wind and snow cover are on my mind as I stumble along the streets of Iqaluit my legs no longer my own as the wind tears at them – the tassel of my hat sticking out like a wind-vane behind me. The town is browner with each windy day as the rocks are scraped clean and gravel and last year’s tundra peek through. Across the bay, the white slopes of the Meta Incognita Peninsula are turning greyer and stonier by the day.
Congratulations to Knut Kitching who received the Caribou Research and Management Award from the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board (BQCMB). About the award:
“Since 1988, the BQCMB has helped post-secondary students learn more about the management and conservation of barren-ground caribou and their habitat through its Caribou Research and Management Award, sponsored by the Board’s Caribou Management Scholarship Fund. The annual award, administered by the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS), currently carries a value of up to $1,500 and is open to anyone studying barren-ground caribou or their range in Canada. Preference is given to applicants from a caribou-range community and to those examining the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Herds.”
Listen to our newest “Fieldcast”, part field report, part podcast, by Knut Kitching.
I am reaching the end of my first full week in Iqaluit and what a busy week it has been! This week has been about regaining my feet here and re-establishing relationships and contacts with knowledge-holders and community members. I have been very fortunate in my time here to have had the opportunity to spend time with some very kind and generous Iqalummiut amongst whom Meeka Mike and her partner Peter have been central – qujanamiik to them both!
Learning doesn’t just take place in an interview setting, with questions and answers from researcher and participant, but also as the simple and unstructured sharing of experiences as a part of conversation.
I spend a great deal of time worrying that my work does not progress fast enough (as I’m sure my committee does as well!), but here in Iqaluit that fades quickly away and I am able to enjoy the experience of learning from Iqalummiut. Learning doesn’t just take place in an interview setting, with questions and answers from researcher and participant, but also as the simple and unstructured sharing of experiences as a part of conversation. It has been wonderful to learn more not just about caribou hunting, but also about politics, snow-mobiles, sewing and parka design and the ever-present spectre of high food costs.
I finally caught a glimpse of the aurora over town on Thursday evening. Like a vast green sheet it moved wisp-like, dancing across the sky south-west of Iqaluit. Certainly the clearest I’ve ever seen it.
Master’s student Kaitlyn Finner has spent the past week in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut meeting with community members to learn about their views of the household food inventories completed throughout summer and fall 2013.
During August, September and November, 22 households participated in eight weeks of data collection. During the two, month-long periods, community members were asked to document all market and wild foods that passed through their homes. Kaitlyn and community research assistant Inez Shiwak are now meeting with residents to hear their reflections on the food inventory forms and process.
This research is being conducted in partnership with the Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change (IHACC), and Inuit Traditional Knowledge for Adapting to the Health Effects of Climate Change (IK-ADAPT) projects and is run by the Rigolet Inuit Community Government.
Listen to the accompanying audio field report by Knut:
Wow, what an arrival! Mere hours after touching down in a cold and blustery -26C I am being shown how to light a qulliq (the traditional soapstone lamp which Inuit have used for centuries for light and heat), while Meeka Mike tells me how she makes the wicks from mosses and lichens and willow catkins all crushed together in a special mixture. Then later just when I think its time to head home for a quiet supper on my own, I am whisked off by Meeka and Peter to come and eat family dinner at the Mike household. And what a meal it is, Inuktitut is flowing past my ears as I eat narwhal muqtuq with soya sauce, fermented char, fresh shrimp, and my personal favourite raw seal with extra blood (makes you feel warm for weeks!). Country food is served on cardboard on the kitchen floor while on the table there is pasta and pizza for those who want some store-bought food. An amazing meal with a lovely family!
The Community Consultation on Baffin Island Caribou that happened here in Iqaluit on the 18th of January was a very interesting meeting to have attended. The tone of the discussion seemed to indicate a management institution still far from having made any decisions in any particular direction, and there has been as yet no rumours or preliminary discussion of a ballpark figure for Total Allowable Harvest for the South Baffin. From some angles this isn’t particularly surprising, the next aerial survey aimed at February and early March of this year aims to encompass the whole of Baffin Island in a single sweep, to provide an established figure and to double check the number achieved during the past couple of aerial surveys which were completed in 2012. Regardless all those in attendance were of the opinion that the document decline of more than 90% from 180,000 animals in the early 1990’s to less than 2000 today was of serious concern for all of the communities of Southern Baffin Island.
Iqaluit is a particularly unique and interesting community to spend time in and think about in relation to caribou harvesting for a variety of reasons. Iqaluit is by far the largest community in Nunavut with a population of roughly 7000 and is also the community with the largest ratio of Qallunaat to Inuit (roughly 40% to 60%, compared to most other communities which are more than 85% Inuit). Iqalummiut are also more often than not recent arrivals to the community. Relatively few families have been resident here for more than one generation, people migrating here for employment in industry or government posts from across the Arctic. These factors along with the cost of hunting and safety gear, the challenges of intergenerational knowledge transmission, available time and difficult travelling conditions, make this a challenging harvesting climate.
The following are a few snapshots from the last couple of days here in Iqaluit. They’ve been chilly days, averaging around -23ish without windchill, though there have been some windy days as well. Wind certainly makes a difference, and it becomes plain to see how it changes the way the snow lies on the land. After each blustery day there are new rocks and bare gravel exposed where the snow lies thin, and one can see how travel on the land would become hard. Good deep snow is important both for protecting the plants which are deep in their senescence period but also to allow travellers to use snowmobiles and komatiqs without rattling themselves to pieces.
The Inuit Mental Health and Adaptation to Climate Change project was featured on CBC in the following article, as well as on an episode of Quirks & Quarks. Visit the CBC website to view the original article.
Climate change rattles mental health of Inuit in Labrador
‘Grief, mourning, anger, frustration’ over environmental changes
CBC News Posted: Jan 10, 2014 5:22 PM ET Last Updated: Jan 13, 2014 8:32 AM ET
This photo supplied by researcher Ashlee Cunsolo Willox shows cabins in Double Mer just outside of Rigolet in Nunatsiavut, Labrador. Climate change has caused ice to break up or not form at all, making it difficult for Inuit populations to access the cabins they use as a base for hunting and trapping. (Couresty My Word: Storytelling & Digital Media Lab)
Researchers studying the mental health and well-being of Inuit populations in coastal Labrador say rising temperatures are having damaging psychological effects on people in traditional communities.
‘Many people said they also felt very depressed about not being able to get out there on the land’- Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, researcher for Inuit Mental Health Adaptation to Climate Change project
In an interview on CBC Radio’s Quirks & Quarks on Saturday, Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, who has been working in partnership with Inuit communities in Nunatsiavut since 2009, described intense feelings of isolation among people there following temperature changes that have caused disruptions in how the ice and snow are interacting.
“The North Labrador Coast is one of the fastest-changing and fastest-warming areas anywhere in the world,” she told host Bob McDonald. “In particular, rising temperatures have led to a real decrease in sea ice.”
There were strong emotional reactions to that loss among all 120 people interviewed by researchers behind the community-based Inuit Mental Health Adaptation to Climate Change project.
The feelings included “a sense of grief, mourning, anger, frustration, sadness, and many people said they also felt very depressed about not being able to get out there on the land,” Cunsolo Willox said.
Traditional routes no longer safe
Wildlife and vegetation have changed, with caribou and moose moving further north, and traditional berries have been failing to grow when they have in the past.
“In some cases, they’re getting less snow than before, which makes it very difficult to travel inland by Ski-Doo or by dog team,” added Cunsolo Willox, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Healthy Communities at Cape Breton University.
She and her colleagues interviewed people in the communities of Nain, Hopedale, Postville, Makkovik and Rigolet, and their work is run in partnership with the Rigolet Inuit Community Government. The majority of those interviewed are Inuit.
“People describe themselves as land people, as people of the snow and the ice, and would say that going out on the land and hunting and trapping and fishing [is] just as much part of their life as breathing,” Cunsolo Willox said.
The Inuit of Labrador’s Nunatsiavut region have had first hand experience with the effects of climate change for several decades now. Rising temperatures have resulted in changes in ice conditions and snow levels, and this, in turn, is limiting their ability to hunt. But a new study by Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Healthy Communities and an Assistant Professor of Community Health at Cape Breton University in Sydney, has found that climate change is also having an impact on the mental and emotional health of the people there. Because they cannot go out on the dangerously thin ice, or even inland by snowmobile, they feel trapped in their communities. Many have also described feeling depressed, anxious, stressed, and even angry. Some have also reported feeling a loss of their ancestral identity.
- Paper in Climate Change
- The Tyee story
- The Changing Climate, Changing Health, Changing Stories project
- Video: Rigolet Storytelling and Digital Media Lab: Have We Waited Too Long?
- Video: Rigolet Storytelling and Digital Media Lab: Who Am I?
use this link to download the mp3.
The IHACC project was recently freatured in a Le Devoir article on climate change and adaptation. See below or visit the Le Devoir website for the original article.
À toutes les latitudes, chercher à s’adapter
Photo : Agence France-Presse Geoff RobinsAu Nunavut, le gel arrive quatre semaines plus tard qu’avant, ce qui rend, par exemple, la pêche sur glace moins sécuritaire. Chez les peuples autochtones, le manque de nourriture de sources traditionnelles entraîne la dépendance aux aliments industriels, ce qui crée des problèmes de santé tels que le diabète.
Qu’ils vivent dans le Grand Nord canadien, au Pérou ou en Ouganda, les peuples autochtones sont les premiers à pâtir du réchauffement du climat. Les chercheurs Léa Berrang-Ford et James Ford documentent les effets sur la santé de ces populations, l’une au sud, l’un au nord.
Le couple Berrang-Ford, marié dans la vie, tous deux chercheurs à l’Université McGill, a réussi à croiser ses intérêts de recherche en documentant les adaptations que doivent déployer les peuples autochtones pour réagir au bouleversement du climat.
Pour certains projets, ils se sont rendus quatre fois l’an dans des communautés autochtones du Nord canadien, du Pérou et de l’Ouganda pour observer l’impact des changements climatiques sur leur mode de vie et leur santé.
En 11 ans d’allers-retours nord-sud, James Ford a observé les mutations. « Au Nunavut, le gel arrive quatre semaines plus tard. La pêche sur glace est moins sécuritaire. Certains prennent plus de risques », observe-t-il, entraînant des blessures. Quand les sources de nourriture traditionnelles se tarissent, la dépendance aux aliments industriels s’accentue, posant des problèmes de santé comme le diabète, d’une part, et d’insécurité alimentaire en raison des prix élevés, d’autre part.
Les défis des communautés autochtones sont nombreux déjà. « Nous avons des indications voulant que les changements climatiques accentuent la détresse psychologique », constate M. Ford. « Nous devons comprendre le climat et les aider à s’y adapter » pour éviter que les problématiques actuelles ne soient multipliées, ajoute-t-il.
S’appuyer sur des savoirs ancestraux
« En Ouganda, les changements climatiques ne sont absolument pas une priorité dansl’esprit des gens que je rencontre, relate Léa Berrang-Ford. Ils veulent manger à leur faim, trouver de l’eau potable, soigner leurs enfants. C’est la première préoccupation. » C’est pourquoi la recherche doit s’attarder aux effets des changements climatiques sur la vie quotidienne et aux adaptations, parfois simples, requises. « Si la malaria s’étend et que sa saison de propagation s’allonge, c’est là qu’il faut agir », dit-elle. Il ne faut pas non plus construire des puits dans des zones appelées à s’assécher dans un avenir rapproché.
Au Pérou comme au Nunavut, le couple a observé que la transmission de savoirs millénaires permet à la jeune génération de s’adapter aux changements à venir. Les aînés montrent par exemple aux plus jeunes à juger de l’épaisseur de la glace, au nord, ou à se servir des plantes médicinales contre les infections de plus en plus présentes, au sud.
Ils observent aussi que les difficultés ne s’estompent pas lorsque les individus migrent vers les grandes villes comme Montréal. « Ce qui les rend vulnérables, ce n’est pas le climat en tant que tel, mais des facteurs sociaux comme la pauvreté ou l’isolement. Quand on ajoute les changements climatiques par-dessus ces problèmes préexistants, ils sont exacerbés », explique Mme Berrang-Ford.
Le couple concentre ses énergies sur les adaptations aux changements climatiques un peu par dépit. « Les gouvernements sont plus prompts à financer des mesures de mitigation des effets du réchauffement qu’à le prévenir, selon Léa Berrang-Ford. Pour prévenir, il faut s’entendre à l’échelle internationale, et on voit à quel point c’est difficile avec les récents échecs. Alors que l’adaptation est locale. Encourager l’adaptation, c’est moins politique, et nous avons vu s’opérer un virage clair en ce sens. »
Selon James Ford, ce sont plus de 100 milliards de dollars annuellement que les gouvernements du monde devraient investir pour préparer l’inévitable montée du mercure. « Nous sommes encore loin de cette cible », ajoute-t-il.
Et plus nous échouerons à prévenir l’accélération du réchauffement, plus il faudra investir pour s’y adapter, ajoute Mme Berrang-Ford.
Well-done to Sherilee Harper for successfully defending her PhD. Sheri has been a key researcher on the IHACC project, working closely with the CCARG to this end, and is the first PhD to be graduated from IHACC. She will be taking up a faculty position in the New Year at the University of Guelph, and will continue to play a lead role in IHACC. The CCARG team looks forward to working with her in the future.
A review of protective factors and causal mechanisms that enhance the mental health of Indigenous Circumpolar youth
Petrasek MacDonald, J., Ford, J. D., Cunsolo Willox, A. and Ross, N. A. (2013). International Journal of Circumpolar Health. Find PDF here.
Objectives. To review the protective factors and causal mechanisms which promote and enhance Indigenous youth mental health in the Circumpolar North.
Study design. A systematic literature review of peer-reviewed English-language research was conducted to systematically examine the protective factors and causal mechanisms which promote and enhance Indigenous youth mental health in the Circumpolar North.
Methods. This review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, with elements of a realist review. From 160 records identified in the initial search of 3 databases, 15 met the inclusion criteria and were retained for full review. Data were extracted using a codebook to organize and synthesize relevant information from the articles.
Results. More than 40 protective factors at the individual, family, and community levels were identified as enhancing Indigenous youth mental health. These included practicing and holding traditional knowledge and skills, the desire to be useful and to contribute meaningfully to one’s community, having positive role models, and believing in one’s self. Broadly, protective factors at the family and community levels were identified as positively creating and impacting one’s social environment, which interacts with factors at the individual level to enhance resilience. An emphasis on the roles of cultural and land-based activities, history, and language, as well as on the importance of social and family supports, also emerged throughout the literature.
Conclusions. Healthy communities and families foster and support youth who are resilient to mental health challenges and able to adapt and cope with multiple stressors, be they social, economic, or environmental. Creating opportunities and environments where youth can successfully navigate challenges and enhance their resilience can in turn contribute to fostering healthy Circumpolar communities. Looking at the role of new social media in the way youth communicate and interact is one way of understanding how to create such opportunities. Youth perspectives of mental health programmes are crucial to developing appropriate mental health support and meaningful engagement of youth can inform locally appropriate and culturally relevant mental health resources, programmes and community resilience strategies.
A Review of National-Level Adaptation Planning with Regards to the Risks Posed by Climate Change on Infectious Diseases in 14 OECD Nations
Mirna Panic and James D. Ford. (2013). Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. Get PDF here.
Climate change is likely to have significant implications for human health, particularly through alterations of the incidence, prevalence, and distribution of infectious diseases. In the context of these risks, governments in high income nations have begun developing strategies to reduce potential climate change impacts and increase health system resilience (i.e., adaptation). In this paper, we review and evaluate national-level adaptation planning in relation to infectious disease risks in 14 OECD countries with respect to “best practices” for adaptation identified in peer-reviewed literature. We find a number of limitations to current planning, including negligible consideration of the needs of vulnerable population groups, limited emphasis on local risks, and inadequate attention to implementation logistics, such as available funding and timelines for evaluation. The nature of planning documents varies widely between nations, four of which currently lack adaptation plans. In those countries where planning documents were available, adaptations were mainstreamed into existing public health programs, and prioritized a sectoral, rather than multidisciplinary, approach. The findings are consistent with other scholarship examining adaptation planning indicating an ad hoc and fragmented process, and support the need for enhanced attention to adaptation to infectious disease risks in public health policy at a national level.
The socio-ecological dimensions of hydrocarbon development in the Disko Bay region of Greenland: Opportunities, risks, and tradeoffs
Graham McDowell and James D. Ford. (2013). Applied Geography. Find PDF here.
Efforts to develop Greenland’s offshore hydrocarbon resources are well underway. Research into the interrelated social and ecological dimensions of current hydrocarbon development activity, however, remains in its infancy in both Greenland and the Arctic at-large. This study draws on insights from socio-ecological resilience and political ecology scholarship to develop a baseline understanding of the socio-ecological opportunities, risks, and tradeoffs of hydrocarbon development in Greenland’s Disko Bay region. Community-based interviews (n = 45), key informant interviews (n = 10), and participant observations were carried out in Ilulissat, Aasiaat, and Qeqertarsuaq, communities that together are representative of the region’s biophysical and socio-economic/political diversity. The study identifies and discusses potential socio-economic development opportunities, risks of environmental degradation and social disruption, and tradeoffs between known lifeways and new livelihood prospects. It is argued that environmental change is insufficiently analyzed in government- and industry-funded impact assessments, leading decision-makers and stakeholders to endorse hydrocarbon development activities based on information that may underreport uncertainty and the extent of potential risks.
A number of CCARG members, collaborators and affiliated researchers will be participating in the ArticNet 2013 conference. Dr. James Ford is a poster judge and will also be chairing the Climate Adaptation, Health and Indigenous Knowledge (IK-ADAPT) topical session on Friday, December 13th starting at 11pm in Room 301. IK-ADAPT will also be holding it’s 2nd Annual Meeting concurrently with ArcticNet on Tuesday December 10th. The group is also presenting three poster. See below or view the conference program for details.
Wednesday December 11th
- 10:45am, Inuit Knowledge topical session chaired by Rachel Hirsch, Room 301. Talk titled “Tuktu and Climate Change: Inuit Hunting on Southern Baffin Island” by Knut Kitching
- 3:45pm, Community Health and Food Security topical session chaired by Sarah Statham, Room 304/305. Talk titled “Including the Intangible: Photo-Cards as a Method for Analyzing the Social and Cultural Importance of Food in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut” by Kaitlyn Finner
Thursday, December 12 th
- 3:30pm, Communities and Resource Development (Part II) topical session chaired by Frank Tester, Room 303. Talk titled “Our Baffinland: Inuit Knowledge, Mining and Video Cartography” by Ian Mauro
- 4pm, Education and Outreach (Part II) topical session chaired by Jennifer Provencher, Room 204/205. Talk titled “From the Minds of Youth: Using Participatory Video to Explore Youth Resilience in a Changing Climate” by Joanna Petrasek MacDonald and Jordan Konek
- 4pm, Community Health and Well-Being topical session chaired by Mylène Riva, Room 304/305. Talk titled “Assessing Mental Health Impacts from a Changing Climate in Northern Canada: A Nunatsiavut Regional Perspective” by Ashlee Cunsolo Willox
- 4:15pm, Communities and Resource Development (Part II) topical session chaired by Frank Tester, Room 303. Talk titled “The Socio-Ecological Dimensions of Hydrocarbon Development in the Disko Bay Region of Greenland: Opportunities, Risks, and Tradeoffs” by Graham McDowell
- 4:45pm, Community Health and Well-Being topical session chaired by Mylène Riva, Room 304/305. Talk titled “Perceptions of the Causes and Cures Surrounding Acute Gastrointestinal Illness among Residents of Iqaluit, Nunavut” by Anna Bunce
Friday, December 13 th
Climate Adaptation, Health and Indigenous Knowledge (IK-ADAPT) topical session chaired by James Ford, Room 301
- 11:00am, talk titled “Consensus Workshop on Indigenous Values for Health Systems in Circumpolar Regions” by Ian Mauro
- 11:15am, talk titled “From Community-Based to Community-Led: Understanding Research as a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for Public Health in the North” by Charlotte Wolfrey
- 11:30am, talk titled “Indigenous Values and Health Systems Stewardship” by SusanChatwood
11:45am, talk titled “Growing Strong? Reflections on the Participatory Evaluation of a Community-Based Health Intervention in Nain, Nunatsiavut” by Rachel Hirsch
Perspectives on the formalization of knowledge transmission: A case study from Ulukhaktok, NWT (#165)
Eleanor Stephenson 1; Tristan Pearce 2,3; Ashlee Cunsolo Willox 4; James Ford 1
Nunamin Illihakvia: Learning from the Land (#164)
Pearce, Tristan1,2, E. Stephenson3, S. Kaodlak4, D. Akhiatak4, A. Kudlak4, L. Nakoneczny3 and J.D. Ford3
IHACC: Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change Project (#93)
Ford, J.D.,1 Harper, S.,2 Edge, V.2 and the IHACC Team
Mya H. Sherman and James Ford. (2013). Climatic Policy. Find PDF here.
Institution-oriented, top-down and community-oriented, bottom-up stakeholder approaches are evaluated for their ability to enable or constrain the implementation of adaptation in developing nations. A systematic review approach is used evaluate the project performance of 18 adaptation projects by three of the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) adaptation programmes (the Strategic Priority for Adaptation (SPA), the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), and the National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPA)) according to effectiveness, efficiency, equity, legitimacy, flexibility, sustainability, and replicability. The ten SPA projects reviewed performed highest overall, especially with regards to efficiency, legitimacy, and replicability. The five SCCF projects performed the highest in equity, flexibility, and sustainability, and the three NAPA-related projects were the highest-performing projects with regards to effectiveness. A comparison of top-down and bottom-up approaches revealed that community stakeholder engagement in project design and implementation led to higher effectiveness, efficiency, equity, flexibility, legitimacy, sustainability, and replicability. Although low institutional capacity constrained both project success and effective community participation, projects that hired international staff to assist in implementation experienced higher overall performance. These case studies also illustrate how participatory methods can fail to genuinely empower or involve communities in adaptation interventions in both top-down and bottom-up approaches. It is thus crucial to carefully consider stakeholder engagement strategies in adaptation interventions.