Anna Bunce presenting at Geography in Action! this Friday October 3rd

2014 September 30

Anna Bunce, MA candidate from our department, will be presenting highlights from her fieldwork and research at noon on Friday in Burnside 426, as part of the Brown Bag Seminar Series. Her talk is titled “Research in Iqaluit: Navigating friendships and working relationships while researching how Inuit women experience climate change.” Light refreshments will be provided, please bring your lunch.

Montreal ranks in the top 10 of student cities globally: QS survey

2014 September 29

In a recent global survey, Montreal ranked #9 of best cities globally to be a student, ranking #1 in Canada and #2 in North America. The CCARG is happy to be located in one of world’s top student cities.

As originally published on the QS Top Universities website

Image from:

Home to several of Canada’s highest ranking institutions, including McGill University (currently ranked 21st in the world), Montréal has been dubbed Canada’s cultural capital, and one of the world’s most liveable cities.

As a French-speaking city in a largely English-speaking nation that has experienced mass immigration from all over the world in the past decades, Montréal has a distinctly hybrid culture. The city boasts a world-renowned indie music scene and is the site of several major international festivals, including the Montréal International Jazz Festival and the world’s largest comedy festival, Just for Laughs.

With a relatively large and diverse student population, Montréal gets its strongest score in the ‘Student Mix’ category of the Best Student Cities index. Its weakest point is affordability – but in fact it beats most of the other top 10 student cities on this indicator, barring Hong Kong and Munich.

Continue reading here about why Montreal, Canada is a great place to be a student.

Congratulations to Michelle Maillet on completing her M.A. thesis

2014 September 26

Longtime Climate Change Adaptation Research Group lab member and McGill University graduate student, Michelle Maillet, has completed her M.A. thesis titled “Is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change an effective (or appropriate) institution for supporting indigenous peoples’ adaptation to climate change?”

Michelle started working with the CCARG in May 2010 as a research assistant, where her role included editing the book “Climate Change Adaptation in Developed Nations: From Theory to Practice“.  In September 2011, she started her M.A. as a graduate student at McGill under the supervision of Dr. James Ford. She completed her thesis in the summer of 2014. Michelle also held the position of project manager for the IHACC project from January to September 2013. As a research assistant and graduate student, Michelle went to the 16th, 17th and 18th sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as a representative of McGill University and the CCARG. She developed her research topic and question at these sessions.

Additionally, Michelle has contributed greatly to the geography community at McGill, through her activities on the Geography Graduate Society committees and executive, through her participation in a departmental mentoring program, and as an invaluable member of the CCARG. Since finishing her thesis, Michelle has remained as part of the CCARG as an R.A, and has also taken on a position at McGill University as the Department of Geography’s Undergraduate Program Advisor as of June 2014. All of us at the CCARG wish her the very best in this role!

Michelle Maillet presents M.A. thesis work at IHACC Peru workshop

2014 September 17

On September 9th, IHACC Peru held a one day workshop in advance of the UNFCCC’s COP20 in Lima with a partnering organization of the project, AIDESEP (Inter-ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest ( Michelle was invited to present her M.A. thesis work to the group via Skype during this workshop, and was assisted by Jahir Anicama Diaz and Cecilia Larrea, who translated the presentation to Spanish and served as intermediaries.

Click here to view the presentation slides.

The food security of Inuit women in Arviat, Nunavut: the role of socio-economic factors and climate change

2014 September 10

Maude C. Beaumier, James D. Ford, and Shirley Tagalik. Polar Record. Find PDF here.


Climate change has been identified as compromising food security in many case studies with Inuit communities in Canada. Largely neglected in the scholarship however, is research focusing on the gendered dimensions of Inuit food security in a changing climate. This paper reports on a community based participatory research project involving semi-structured interviews with Inuit women (n = 42), 10 focus groups (n = 40), key informant interviews (n = 8), and participant observation, to identify and characterize the determinants of food security among Inuit females in the community of Arviat, and examine the role played by climate and climate change. Results indicate that significant changes in climate being observed are not currently affecting female food security, with socio-economic-cultural factors primary determinants of food security. The nature of the traditional food system in Arviat based on harvesting land mammals reduces sensitivity to changing sea ice conditions which have been problematic in other Inuit communities. However, dependence on a limited number of animals for diet (primarily caribou, arctic char) increases sensitivity to potential future disruptions caused by climate change to these species and reduces response diversity as a coping mechanism.

Adaptation to climate change in glaciated mountain regions

2014 August 14

Graham McDowell, Eleanor Stephenson, James Ford. Find PDF here.


Understanding of the human dimensions of climate change (HDCC) in glaciated mountain regions is limited by a deficit in systematically collated information on where, to what stressors, by whom, at what scale, and with what effect adaptation is occurring. This paper presents a systematic literature review of the recent English language peer-reviewed scholarship on adaptation in glaciated mountain regions. 4050 potentially relevant articles were examined, with 36 included for full review. Results indicate that scholarly investigation into adaptation in glaciated mountains is presently limited to only 40 % of countries with alpine glaciation. Seventy-four discrete adaptation initiatives were identified, with most occurring in Peru (28 %), Nepal (22 %) and India (17 %). Many documented adaptations were initiated in response to intersecting stressors related to cryospheric change and socio-economic development; were autonomous and initiated in reaction to experienced climatic stimuli; and were carried out at the individual, family, or community scale. The study contributes to an emerging literature tracking on-the-ground adaptation processes and outcomes, and identifies a need to raise the profile of human adaptation in glaciated mountain regions within the HDCC scholarship. A research agenda for addressing key knowledge gaps and questions is developed, providing a framework for future investigation.

Nunamin Illihakvia featured in Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s Inuktitut magazine

2014 July 24
The Health Canada funded Nunamin Illihakvia project in Ulukhaktok was featured in the new edition of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s Inuktitut magazine, on pages 26-31. From the article:

“On a January morning, the headlights of a skidoo zigzag foxlike near Ulukhaktok. Like his father and grandfather before him, Adam Kolohouk Kudlak finds solace on the sea ice and appreciation for the sustenance it provides him, his family and community. Nattiq (ringed seal) were the staple for Inuit now living in Ulukhaktok, the lifeline that enabled Inuit to live in the region; a lifeline that Kolohouk continues to hold onto and strives to pass to younger generations.

Ulukhaktomuit have always hunted seals in the winter, however, residents of this small hamlet on the west coast of Victoria Island in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region of the Northwest Territories have undergone profound socio-economic and political changes in the last half-century. These changes have dramatically altered their lives and livelihoods, including their relationship with nattiq.”

Continue reading online here or download a PDF version

Mya Sherman interview with the Observatorio Cambio Climático in Peru (in Spanish)

2014 July 17

MA student Mya Sherman was recently interviewed in Peru by the Observatorio Cambio Climático about her masters work. The interview was originally published here.

Seguridad alimentaria indígena y cambio climático

Entrevista a Mya Sherman,Universidad de McGill, Canadá.

Diversos estudios advierten que el cambio climático puede poner en riesgo la seguridad alimentaria de las poblaciones mas vulnerables. El último reporte del IPCC, sobre impactos, adaptación y vulnerabilidad ante el cambio climático, advierte sobre un posible menor rendimiento de la agricultura a nivel global, que se vería agravado por el aumento de la demanda de productos alimentarios. Además, aumentaría la intensidad de eventos extremos como sequías e inundaciones, que afectan la producción de alimentos.

En el Perú, se requiere desarrollar más investigación sobre este tema, por eso son importantes iniciativas como el programa de investigación: “Salud Indígena y Adaptación al Cambio Climático”, desarrollado conjuntamente  por la Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredía en alianza con la Universidad canadiense McGill.Mya Sherman, estudiante de Maestría en Geografía en la Universidad de McGill ha desarrollado su tesis en torno al tema “Vulnerabilidad y capacidad adaptativa de sistemas alimentarios comunitarios en la Amazonía peruana”. A continuación ella nos explica en qué consistió esta investigación, sus principales hallazgos y recomendaciones.

- ¿En qué consistió la investigación que has desarrollado?

Como parte de mi maestría quería hacer mi tesis con la comunidad Shipiba de Panaillo, que está ubicada en el distrito de Callería, provincia de Coronel Portillo en el departamento de Ucayali. Me interesa mucho el tema de la seguridad alimentaria, porque va a ser afectada por el cambio climático, y en otros estudios hemos identificado que para esta comunidad en particular, su seguridad alimentaria puede estar en riesgo. Específicamente decidí estudiar el fenómeno de inundaciones, por que es el evento climático que afecta más a esta comunidad. Durante las estaciones de lluvia se registran muchas inundaciones, que dañan todos sus cultivos. Yo quería entender como afectan las inundaciones a su seguridad alimentaria, sobre todo porque se pronostica que en el futuro serán mas frecuentes y severas. Esto es preocupante, por que si ya están teniendo impactos negativos en la actualidad, puede ser peor en el futuro.

Los habitantes de Panaillo reportan que las inundaciones han aumentado su duración e intensidad en los últimos años, y que las lluvias son cada vez más impredecibles. Además, han aumentado las temperaturas durante la estación seca, y todo esto complica la actividad agrícola. La pesca tambiénse ha visto afectada, no solo por las alteraciones climáticas, sino también porque muchos pescadores locales  utilizan prácticas prohibidas como el uso de veneno (barbasco) y de redes más grandes de lo permitido. Esto ha causado una reducción en la cantidad y diversidad de peces. También se han producido cambios en el econosistema amazónico como consecuencia de la expansión agrícola,la deforestación, minería y tala ilegal, entre otros  factores.

En tu investigación haces mención no solo a factores biofísicos sino también a factores socioeconómicos, ¿podrías hablarnos sobre esto?

Lo que he encontrado es que estos factores biofísicos, como las inundaciones y las sequías, atacan a la salud y a la seguridad alimentaria; pero los factores socioeconómicos, están agravando la situación de la población. Esto incluye sobre todo el aumento de la dependencia respecto a los ingresos monetarios para comprar alimentos y otros productos para su sustento. Otro problema grave se da con las industrias extractivas, que están generando cambios en los ecosistemas de la selva.

Otro factor que he identificado es que la institucionalidad en la zona de estudio es muy precaria. Hay presencia de instituciones del Estado, ONG, compañías de gas y otras, pero presentan problemas de comunicación y articulación, uso de fondos o de corrupción incluso. Hay deficiencias relacionadas con la memoria institucional, debido a que cada 4 años se cambian autoridades, y muchas veces no dejan documentos para la próxima gestión. Entonces hay una perdida de información y de capacidades. Esto se manifiesta cuando hay inundaciones, ya que las instituciones no cuentan con la experiencia, ni los conocimientos para manejarlos, esto es algo preocupante.

Sin embargo, también has encontrado que los habitantes de Panaillo han implementado algunas estrategias de adaptación

Tradicionalmente, la preservación de alimentos ha sido una estrategia importante para garantizar la seguridad alimentaria en Panaillo durante la temporada de lluvias en que ocurren las inundaciones. El pescado ahumado o salado puede ser consumido semanas despues de haber sido procesado. Sin embargo, cuando los lagos se secan muchos peces se pudren, ya que las familias no pueden transportar grandes cantidades de peces para ser procesados o no tienen tiempo ni  la sal necesaria para la preservación.

La yuca también suele preservarse como fariña y puede durar meses, pero las familias de Panaillo muchas veces no pueden procesar la yuca si no cuentan con un excedente y con la mano de obra necesaria. Tampoco pueden hacerlo cuando la inundación se presenta antes de la cosecha o cuando el producto no puede secarse apropiadamente por la excesiva humedad. Además, es preocupante  porque los jóvenes en la comunidad ahora no saben como hacer fariña porque este concimiento no esta siendo trasmitido  entre las generaciones. Otra estrategia utilzada es el almacenamiento de alimentos y semillas, pero se presentan dificultades como no contar con espacio necesario, las plagas y que las semillas no secan adecuadamente.

Que recomendaciones podrías dar que se puedan incorporar a las políticas publicas o a los lineamientos de acción de las instituciones privadas?

Hay varias recomendaciones, lo más importante para mi es la prevención en el manejo de desastres, lo que se ve más en el campo es que hay una respuesta después de un desastre, pero se debería mejorar la prevención.  Si las comunidades nativas tienen más ingresos económicos y una agricultura mas resiliente, su capacidad adaptativa mejorará y ellos mismos van a poder manejar los desastres naturales. La recomendación sería desarrollar la pesca, agricultura, artesanías y generar otros ingresos en estas comunidades. Las instituciones y las comunidades necesitan comunicar y trabajar juntas en esto.

CCARG and the WORLD Policy Analysis Center at UCLA

2014 July 17

CCARG has teamed up with the WORLD Policy Analysis Center at UCLA to provide access to raw data for the adaptation tracking research reported in Lesnikowski et al 2011, Lesnikowski et al 2013, Lesnikwoski et al in press, and Berrang-Ford et al (2014).

“Nunamin Illihakvia: Learning from the Land” video now available online

2014 July 15

The “Nunamin Illihakvia: Learning from the Land” video is now available online. “Nunamin Illihakvia: Learning from the Land” was an Ulukhaktok Community Corporation (UCC) led project funded by Health Canada in partnership with researchers from McGill University, the University of Guelph, and the University of the Sunshine Coast. The project brought together young Inuit adults with experienced hunters, sewers and elders to learn how to make equipment, travel on the sea ice and hunt seals in the winter, prepare seal skins for sewing, and sew traditional seal skin clothing.

For more information on this and similar projects, please visit or

CCARG researchers contribute to new report: “Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation”

2014 June 25

Affiliated CCARG researcher, Dr. Tristan Pearce, and Dr. James Ford both contributed to a new assessment report from Natural Resources Canada, “Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation”, as a lead author and contributing author respectively. Below is a description of the report, which you can find by clicking here.

Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation is a 2014 update to the 2008 science assessment report, From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate. During this time period, our understanding of climate change impacts and adaptation in Canada has increased, both as a result of new research and through practical experience.  Led by Natural Resources Canada, the development of this report involved over 90 authors and 115 expert reviewers, and synthesized over 1500 recent publications.

Summer Fieldwork in Iqaluit: A day in the life of MA student Anna Bunce

2014 June 16

Here’s a look at MA student Anna Bunce’s daily schedule during fieldwork in Iqaluit.

Hello from Iqaluit!

As I’m now halfway through my fieldwork in Iqaluit I thought I’d give readers a little peek into an average day in my Iqaluit life doing research.

8:30 am: Wake up
With the high latitude the sun is up almost 24 hours a day in Iqaluit. When the sun isn’t out the town is still bathed in that evening twighlight that produces enough light to keep you from getting sleepy. This has resulted in what I’m terming “sun-lag” and has made sleeping a bit tricky. Thanks to my trusty sleep mask and a black garbage bag over the window I’ve been getting back into a more regular sleeping pattern.

9:30 am: Out the door and off to the library
With wireless internet being difficult to get a hold of at the moment the Library and Visitor’s Center has become my newest morning hang out. I like to sit across from the giant taxidermied polar bear – nothing like a little adrenaline rush to get you answering emails in the morning

11 am: Interview
I’ve scheduled an interview for this morning from the day before and so I head out from the library to the interviewee’s house. I enjoy getting to interview people in their homes. Talking with someone about the changes in their life and how they’ve experienced change in their own home gives such wonderful context (and hopefully makes them feel more comfortable).

12:30: Lunch
From 12:00 -1:00 everything closes in Iqaluit so that people can go home and spend lunch with their families. Kids are picked up from school, parents zoom home from the office and from 11:50 to 12:10 and 12:50 to 1:10 Iqaluit experiences some serious traffic along the main roads in town. Interviews certainly aren’t going to happen during this time, so lunch has become a nice break for me as well.

2:00 Interview
Someone I interviewed had recommended I speak to someone else. After a phone call we’ve set up an interview that lasts for about an hour. I leave feeling very fortunate that people are willing to share their life stories with me. If there is one thing I’ve found among all Iqalummiut that I’ve met is a willingness to teach if you are willing to learn.

3:30 Back to the Library
The library has opened for the afternoon so I head back to make use of the internet. Sitting in the chairs looking out at the still frozen over Frobisher Bay I’m convinced Iqaluit’s library has one of the best views around. Unfortunately a fire that has been burning at the city’s dump for the last 3 weeks is marring the view with a funnel of smoke, making it clear why town residents have started referring to the dump fire as “dumpcano”.

5:00 Sewing time
After the work day ends I head over to my friend Naomi’s house. She has been teaching me how to sew seal skin mitts and slippers and her house is becoming my second home. We chat and sew and I stab my thumb a few times with the sharp glover needle used to sew seal skin. I’m patched up with some Barbie bandaids courtesy of Naomi’s daughter Dosha and get back to sewing. Naomi is working on some summer amauti’s (a traditional Inuit clothing item with a large space in the back meant for caring small children that is still very popular among the mother’s of Iqaluit) and she’s out of rickrack to line the edges with. We head out to Arctic Ventures to pick some up and, unsurprisingly, bump into a few friends of Naomi’s. After catching up it’s back home and back to sewing.

10:30 Bed
After a successful evening of sewing and chatting it’s time for bed. Back in my house I have to do some garbage bag re-adjusting to keep out the light, but the overcast weather is helping keep it a bit darker. Tomorrow is another day – let the research continue.

Photo: IHACC team at the CAG annual conference

2014 June 9

IHACC team at the CAG annual conference special IDRC session

IHACC Results Sharing Meeting: Iqaluit Health Survey Results

2014 June 9

We would like to invite you to attend the following IHACC Event:

Results Sharing Meeting: Iqaluit Health Survey Results

Topics: Acute Gastrointestinal Illness and Food Security

Date: Monday June 16th, 2014

Time: 9:00AM – 3:30PM at the Nunavut Research Institute

See the flyer below for more information.

Please RSVP to:

For more detailed agenda information:

If you have any questions, let us know!

Sherilee Harper, Victoria Edge, James Ford, and the IHACC team

What we learned from the Dust Bowl: lessons in science, policy, and adaptation

2014 June 9

Robert A. McLeman, Juliette Dupre, Lea Berrang Ford, James Ford, Konrad Gajewski, Gregory Marchildon. Find the open access PDF here.

This article provides a review and synthesis of scholarly knowledge of Depression-era droughts on the North American Great Plains, a time and place known colloquially as the Dust Bowl era or the Dirty Thirties. Recent events, including the 2008 financial crisis, severe droughts in the US corn belt, and the release of a popular documentary film, have spawned a resurgence in public interest in the Dust Bowl. Events of the Dust Bowl era have also proven in recent years to be of considerable interest to scholars researching phenomena related to global environmental change, including atmospheric circulation, drought modeling, land management, institutional behavior, adaptation processes, and human migration. In this review, we draw out common themes in terms of not only what natural and social scientists have learned about the Dust Bowl era itself, but also how insights gained from the study of that period are helping to enhance our understanding of climate–human relations more generally.