CCARG highlights from COP20

2014 December 17

James, Shuaib, and Michelle at the side event “Indigenous peoples, health, and community-based monitoring systems”

Five members of the Climate Change Adaptation Research Group attended the UNFCCC COP20 conference in Lima, Peru. Additionally, many IHACC project researchers, including PI’s Dr. Shuaib Lwasa and Dr.Alejandro Llanos, participated in the conference. Here are some of the group’s highlights from COP20.

Panelists and speakers at the side event co-organized with Tebtebba

IHACC researchers participated in an official COP20 side event, co-organized by the Tebtebba, the Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education, and McGill University, on community-based adaptation, monitoring and information systems, as well as health impacts in indigenous peoples’ communities. The event was very well attended, over the room capacity with at least 80 attendees.

CCARG lab members also went to and participated in many side events, including an interactive workshop on public participation at the UNFCCC. Michelle attended the daily briefing for Canadian stakeholders from the chief and deputy chief negotiators for Canada, Dan McDougall and Franca Jacovella. Every day, after updates from the Canadian negotiators, delegates had an opportunity to ask questions.

Mya Sherman and Malcolm Araos at the Trac3 and IHACC booth at COP20

Malcolm Araos spent a lot of time at the Trac3 and IHACC booth at the exhibit portion of COP20, where he shared information about the project to a constant stream of delegates. Every day a different IHACC team member was available to answer questions about the project. There were also IHACC booths at the “Voces por el Clima” fair and the “Climate and Health Summit” side events, where IHACC booklets were distributed. Overall, we were able to distribute research findings to large number of policymakers from Canada and abroad, indigenous leaders from Latin America, researchers and government officials.

One of the TRAC3 posters at the COP20 booth.

Mya Sherman was the recipient of the New Investigator award as well as the People’s Choice Award for Best Presentation at the Climate and Health Summit. New Investigators have the opportunity to have their climate and health research work viewed and critiqued by some of the biggest names in the field during the summit. Mya’s presentation slides, titled “Vulnerability and adaptive capacity of community food systems in the Peruvian Amazon: A case study from Panaillo”, can be found by clicking here.

IHACC was able to have a full day meeting to discuss research results and future directions for the work that is happening in Peru. Margot, who spent a lot of time at COP20 meeting researchers and students from UPCH, was able to further collaborate with the Peruvian team and prepare for her upcoming Master’s work.

Congratulations to Joanna on the completion of the MA thesis

2014 December 15

A big congratulations to Joanna Petrasek MacDonald, whose MA thesis “From the minds of youth: exploring Inuit youth resilience within a changing climate and applications for climate change adaptation in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, Canada” has been accepted. Joanna would like to thank the community members, academic peers and funding agencies for their collaboration and support that made this thesis possible. Joanna is currently the project coordinator for IK-ADAPT, and you can find her bio here:

Abstract: The Canadian North is experiencing rapid social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental change that have direct impacts on the lives of Inuit living in this region, as well as serious implications for the future of the Inuit youth. Essential to facing this challenging context is a resilient youth population with the adaptive capacities and coping skills to respond to multiple stressors and pressures. This thesis considers the question of how to foster youth resilience and support youth protective factors that enhance youth well-being and can help young people deal with change, specifically climate change. To answer this question, a systematic literature review, a community-based, youth-led, cross-cultural participatory video project, and a regional community-based study were undertaken to explore youth-identified protective factors and examine challenges to these factors from youth perspectives and experiences. Specifically, this thesis characterizes the protective factors that influence Circumpolar Indigenous youth mental health resilience to climate change; explores participatory video as a process that can foster protective factors thereby demonstrating potential to be used in adaptation as a way to enhance youth resilience; documents youth-identified protective factors that support mental health and well-being amidst change (i.e. social, cultural, economic, or environmental); and examines how climatic changes and related environmental impacts challenge these factors throughout the region of Nunatsiavut from a youth perspective. The findings from this work highlight the importance of youth voices, perspectives, and involvement within research and practitioner communities, and contributes to the growing body of research on Circumpolar Indigenous youth resilience that can inform climate change adaptation efforts.

CCARG on Finding True North: Top 8 Moments of Arctic Change 2014

2014 December 15

Thank you to Sara Statham for her mention of the CCARG on the popular Arctic blog “Finding True North”. You can read the full blog post by clicking here. Below is the mention of our social media activity during the 2014 Artic Change conference.

4. Following #ArcticChange2014 on Twitter

With so many concurrent sessions, it was awesome to read through the #ArcticChange2014 tweets –  essentially 140 character summaries of everything happening at once. Little gems, take-away messages, or notable quotes. Members of the Climate Change Adaptation Research Group based out of McGill University stood out as top contributors, and this technologically savvy group took over the Twittersphere in a meaningful way.

What a gang! The Climate Change Adaptation Research Group from McGill University at #ArcticNet #ArcticChange2014

Anna Bunce’s research featured on both Nunatsiaq Online and CBC’s Northbeat

2014 December 12

MA student and CCARG researcher Anna Bunce’s work, on the impact of climate change on Inuit women in Iqaluit, Nunavut, has been profiled on both CBC’s Northbeat and Nunatsiaq online. Read Anna’s bio, and follow her on Twitter here.

CBC’s Northbeat

The interview with Anna starts at 34:30. Video originally posted on CBC’s website here.

Article as originally published here on Nunatsiaq Online.

The climate is changing, and so are Arctic berries
Researcher explores how Iqaluit women are adapting to “bad” berry seasons

McGill University researcher Anna Bunce tells a Dec. 10 Arctic Change 2014 session about the barriers Iqaluit women face harvesting berries around their community. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

Women pick berries on the hills overlooking Kuujjuaq this part fall. (PHOTO BY ISABELLE DUBOIS)

EWS: Nunavut December 10, 2014 – 2:30 pm

OTTAWA — How are Inuit communities around the world adapting to a warming climate?

That was the focus of a Dec. 10 morning session at this week’s Arctic Change 2014 conference in Ottawa.

And, not surprisingly, many of the researchers’ presentations featured collaborations with Inuit hunters. Their PowerPoint presentations were filled with photos of parka-clad hunters — the majority of them men — out on the land and sea ice.

But when McGill University graduate student Anna Bunce started to look at climate change and adaptation in Iqaluit three years ago, she wanted to include the perspectives of Inuit women, too.

Bunce looked to the land and community harvest no less.

“When I asked participants what kinds of changes they’d seen on the land, most mentioned caribou,” Bunce said during her presentation.

“But the second most common thing they said was berries. Women talked a lot about how berries were changing, that they were seeing more ‘bad’ years for berries.”

During the last three years of research Bunce has conducted in Nunavut’s capital, Inuit women have described a decline in the quality and quantity of the berries that grow on the hills outside their community — blueberries, crowberries, cloudberries and others.

Berry picking is part of an annual early-autumn tradition, when Inuit — typically women — are seen squatting on the tundra filling pails with the highly nutritious tundra fruits. Berries are used to make jams, sweets, teas and also frozen to save for winter.

But the women Bunce interviewed reported that more and more often, berries are seedy and less juicy, and generally less accessible.

She can’t say for certain what the exact conditions are for a good or bad berry season. Inuit have suggested that warm and wet conditions often translate to a good berry harvest, but it depends on who you talk to, and when those conditions happen.

But while a changing climate might be a factor in poorer berry harvests, the rapid growth of Iqaluit as the territory’s capital city has meant the expansion of housing and other development.

And that’s pushed the berry-picking areas farther away from the community, Bunce said.

“Traditionally, berry picking was a very accessible activity,” she said.

“If you have a bucket and a free hour, you could get out there. Now areas that used to be good for berry picking aren’t any longer, and women have to travel farther to access them.”

That’s not just a cultural or food security issue, Bunce discovered; the women she interviewed said berry picking was also an important activity for mental health.

Because the majority of women Bunce interviewed work full-time, they also have less time to get out onto the land to harvest.

That’s spurred a small market for berries; patients from around the Baffin area travelling to Iqaluit’s Qikiqtani general hospital often bring bags of berries with them to sell, or give to family members.
To a lesser extent, Bunce said women are buying berries sold on community Facebook pages.

In one of the more extreme cases Bunce noted, an Iqaluit woman she interviewed charters a flight to Kimmirut each year to pick berries around the small Baffin community.

“The cost of chartering a flight really speaks to the value this has to women,” she said.

Schedule of CCARG activities at the 2014 Arctic Change conference in Ottawa

2014 December 8

You can find all the Arctic Change 2014 programs here.


T17. Community Adaptation and Vulnerability in Arctic Regions. Co-chairs: Tristan Pearce, James Ford, Barry Smit. Room 210

  • 10:30 Pearce, Tristan Vulnerability and Adaptation Research in the Arctic
  • 10:45 Tjensvoll Kitching, Knut The Dynamics of Climate Change Vulnerability in the Southern Baffin Region, Nunavut
  • 11:15 Bunce, Anna Inuit Women and Climate Change: Perspectives and Experiences Regarding Climate Change and Adaptation in Iqaluit, Nunavut
  • 11:30 Parker, Colleen Freezer Space and Food Security in Ulukhaktok, NWT

T04A. Education in Inuit Nunangat in a Time of Change. Co-chairs: Lars Kullerud, Mary Simon, Thierry Rodon. Room 201

  • 10:45 Lalonde, Genevieve Examining Perceptions of Learning Success among Inuit and Southern Educators

T26C. Health and Well-Being in Arctic Communities: Advancements in Practices, Processes and Outcomes. Co-chairs: Chris Furgal, Eric Loring. Room 206

  • 11:15 Jasiuk, Linnaea Inuit Women’s Perspectives on a Healthy Life
  • 11:30 Cunsolo Willox, Ashlee IlikKuset-Ilingannet/Culture-Connect: Promoting Cultural-Based Youth Mentorship Programs to Support Mental Health, Resilience, and Cultural Sustainability in Nunatsiavut, Labrador
  • 16:15 Finner, Kaitlyn Context Matters: Developing an Approach for Food Systems Research in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut

T09B. Arctic Wildlife Co-Management Challenges and Solutions – Bringing Together Inuit and Scientific Knowledge. Co-chairs: John Cheechoo, Lisa Loseto, Gregor Gilbert. Room 210

  • 16:30 Tjensvoll Kitching, Knut Tuktu and Climate Change: Inuit Harvesting on Southern Baffin Island


T10. Arctic Youth: the Future to a Sustainable Arctic Environment. Co-chairs: Graham May, Justina LeeStolz, Jenna Gall. Room 102

  • 11:00 Petrasek MacDonald, Joanna Youth-Identified Protective Factors for Mental Health and Well-Being in a Changing Climate: Perspectives from Inuit Youth in Nunatsiavut, Labrador

T24B. Addressing Food (In)security in the Arctic. Co-chairs: Leanna Ellsworth, Laura Bennett, Tiff -Annie Kenny. Room 206

  • 16:00 Statham, Sara The Nunavut Food Security Coalition’s Value Toward and Need for Food Security Research


#7 Lalonde, Genevieve The cultural negotiation of Inuit education
#37 Parker, Colleen Vulnerability of an Inuit Food System to Climate and Socio-Economic Change
#48 Ford, James Inuit Traditional Knowledge for Adapting to the Health Effects of Climate Change
#49 Jasiuk, Linnaea Inuit Women’s Conceptualizations of and Approaches to Health in a Changing Climate

CCARG was at Ouranos Symposium in Quebec City

2014 December 8

CCARG members Jolene Labbe and Stephanie Austin attended the Ouranos Symposium in Quebec City December 4th and 5th. Ouranos is a consortium on regional climatology and adaptation to climate change ( The symposium is geared towards sharing knowledge between government and researchers and is held in French. At the symposium Jolene presented a poster on her research on vulnerability of Bakiga health to climate change in Uganda and adaptive capacity (Poster title: Comment les changements climatiques affectent-ils la santé d’une communauté rurale en Ouganda?). Stephanie presented a poster on her research conducted with TRAC3 ( and the Public Health Agency of Canada on health adaptation across Canadian jurisdictions (Poster title: Adaptation des systèmes de santé publique aux changements climatiques à travers les juridictions canadiennes).

“It was important to share the work that is being done through the IHACC and Trac3 projects with the greater Quebecois research community, and connect with researchers in Quebec whose work focuses on climate change adaptation.” – Jolene Labbe

Mya Sherman wins New Investigator award and People’s Choice Award for Best Presentation

2014 December 8

A big congratulations to Mya Sherman, who won the New Investigator award as well as the People’s Choice Award for Best Presentation at the Climate and Health Summit in Peru during COP20. The 2014 Climate and Health Summit took place alongside the next UN climate summit, (COP20) on December 6th. CCARG member Mya Sherman was selected as a “New Investigator” by the summit organizing body. New Investigators have the opportunity to have their climate and health research work viewed and critiqued by some of the biggest names in the field during the summit.

During the summit, Mya won the People’s Choice Award for Best Presentation for her presentation titled “Vulnerability and adaptive capacity of community food systems in the Peruvian Amazon: A case study from Panaillo”.

Mya Sherman presenting as a New Investigator at the Climate and Health Summit in Lima, Peru

Climate and Health Summit Poster and Presentation Winners with the Awards Organizer

Kaitlyn Finner: recipient of the Institute of Aboriginal People’s Health (CIHR) Scientific Director’s Award for Master’s level

2014 December 2

Kaitlyn Finner is the recipient of the Institute of Aboriginal People’s Health (CIHR) Scientific Director’s Award for Master’s level for her research project “Including the Intangible: Photo-Cards as a Method for Analyzing the Social and Cultural Importance of Food in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut”, a project that was funded by a two year Masters scholarship from the Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments. Kaitlyn received the award at the 2014 National Gathering of Graduate Students (NGGS) held in July at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC. Congratulations!

Kaitlyn Finner with Dr. Malcolm King, Scientific Director (IAPH) and Fernando Polanco (NGGS 2014 Organizing Committee)

Official COP20 Side Event “Indigenous peoples, health, and community-based monitoring systems”

2014 November 27

Join us at an official COP20 side event, co-organized by the Tebtebba, the Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education, and McGill University, on community-based adaptation, monitoring and information systems, as well as health impacts in indigenous peoples’ communities. IHACC researchers will be presenting at this event.

Speakers: Kimaren Ole Riamit (ILEPA, Kenya); Tarcila Rivera Zea (Chirapaq, Peru); Dr. Alejandro Llanos (Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia); Dr. Shwaib Lwasa (Makerere); Dr. James Ford (McGill Univeristy); Michelle Maillet (McGill University); Grace Balawag (Tebtebba).

Date: Wednesday,03 Dec 2014
Time: 15:00—16:30
Location: Maranga (130)

“Are we adapting” reaches 100 citations

2014 November 27

Our paper “Are we adapting to climate change?,” published in Global Environmental Change (Berrang-Ford, Ford, Paterson, 2011) , has now been cited 100 times in Web of Science. One of the first adaptation tracking articles, the paper is one of the most cited adaptation papers of the last 5 years.

The status of climate change adaptation in Africa and Asia

2014 November 3

James D. Ford, Lea Berrang-Ford, Anna Bunce, Courtney McKay, Maya Irwin, Tristan Pearce. (2014). Regional Environmental Change. Find PDF here.


Adaptation is a key component of climate policy, yet we have limited and fragmented understanding of if and how adaptation is currently taking place. In this paper, we document and characterize the current status of adaptation in 47 vulnerable ‘hotspot’ nations in Asia and Africa, based on a systematic review of the peer-reviewed and grey literature, as well as policy documents, to extract evidence of adaptation initiatives. In total, 100 peer-reviewed articles, 161 grey literature documents, and 27 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change National Communications were reviewed, constituting 760 adaptation initiatives. Results indicate a significant increase in reported adaptations since 2006. Adaptations are primarily being reported from African and low-income countries, particularly those nations receiving adaptation funds, involve a combination of groundwork and more concrete adaptations to reduce vulnerability, and are primarily being driven by national governments, NGOs, and international institutions, with minimal involvement of lower levels of government or collaboration across nations. Gaps in our knowledge of adaptation policy and practice are particularly notable in North Africa and Central Asia, and there is limited evidence of adaptation initiatives being targeted at vulnerable populations including socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, children, indigenous peoples, and the elderly.

Increasing the Effectiveness of the “Great Green Wall” as an Adaptation to the Effects of Climate Change and Desertification in the Sahel

2014 October 27

David O’Connor, and James Ford. (2014). Sustainability 6(10), 7142-7154. Find PDF here.


The Great Green Wall (GGW) has been advocated as a means of reducing desertification in the Sahel through the planting of a broad continuous band of trees from Senegal to Djibouti. Initially proposed in the 1980s, the plan has received renewed impetus in light of the potential of climate change to accelerate desertification, although the implementation has been lacking in all but two of 11 countries in the region. In this paper, we argue that the GGW needs modifying if it is to be effective, obtain the support of local communities and leverage international support. Specifically, we propose a shift from planting trees in the GGW to utilizing shrubs (e.g., Leptospermum scoparium, Boscia senegalensis, Grewia flava, Euclea undulata or Diospyros lycioides), which would have multiple benefits, including having a faster growth rate and proving the basis for silvo-pastoral livelihoods based on bee-keeping and honey production.

Montreal screening of “Lament for the Land” at McGill a success

2014 October 17

The CCARG would like to thank everyone who made came to the Montreal premiere of “Lament for the Land”. We were very fortunate to have the director and CCARG collaborator Ashlee Cunsolo Willox at the screening to provide an informative introduction and answer questions afterwards. The film was shown to a packed room of 70 people at Thomson House and generated interesting discussions.

A special thank you to all the community members in Nunatsiavut who were so integral to the making of this film for sharing their stories! It was an impactful and thought provoking event attended by a variety of people from the McGill academic community and Montreal in general. Extended interviews can be found on the “Lament for the Land” website.

The film can be viewed here:

Stephanie Austin presented at Health Canada

2014 October 14

CCARG member Stephanie Austin presented on the work she and others been doing for both Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada in a presentation titled “Lessons for Canada in M&E and Health Adaptation.” This work is on health adaptation to climate change at all jurisdictions in Canada, health adaptation at the federal level in 9 OECD countries and Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) of these federal health adaptation initiatives in OECD countries.

This work is part of a larger project conducted under the Tracking Research in Adaptation to Climate Change Consortium (TRAC3) and further information can be found at

The state of climate change adaptation in the Arctic

2014 October 9

James D Ford, Graham McDowell and Julie Jones. Environmental Research Letters. Find PDF here.

The Arctic climate is rapidly changing, with wide ranging impacts on natural and social systems. A variety of adaptation policies, programs and practices have been adopted to this end, yet our understanding of if, how, and where adaptation is occurring is limited. In response, this paper develops a systematic approach to characterize the current state of adaptation in the Arctic. Using reported adaptations in the English language peer reviewed literature as our data source, we document 157 discrete adaptation initiatives between 2003 and 2013. Results indicate large variations in adaptation by region and sector, dominated by reporting from North America, particularly with regards to subsistence harvesting by Inuit communities. Few adaptations were documented in the European and Russian Arctic, or have a focus on the business and economy, or infrastructure sectors. Adaptations are being motivated primarily by the combination of climatic and non-climatic factors, have a strong emphasis on reducing current vulnerability involving incremental changes to existing risk management processes, and are primarily initiated and led at the individual/community level. There is limited evidence of trans-boundary adaptations or initiatives considering potential cross-scale/sector impacts.