Linnaea Jasiuk: Memories from the Ulukhaktok Kingalik Jamboree

2015 March 24

Drumming at Jacks Bay, Ulukhaktok

Each year the community of Ulukhaktok marks the migration of the Eider duck, known locally as kingaliks (male) and mitiinnaq (female). These birds, both nutritionally and culturally rich, are an important component of a northern diet. Each spring the birds migrate following open water leads and pass directly by the shores of the community. This migration route is normally predictable and brings them near enough to the edge of the ice where they become more easily accessible to hunters. This can be a bountiful season for many hunters, some harvesting as many as 100 ducks to last the year. It also elicits fond memories of spring times spent with family at key hunting locations near Mashuyak. Ulukhaktok celebrates the joy and thankfulness for the migration each year at the Kingalik Jamboree.

The first time I visited Ulukhaktok in 2012 I missed the Jamboree by a week but heard all about the cookouts, games, and celebrations. Given the excitement and pride with which people shared their jamboree stories, I knew that it was something I wanted to experience one day! This year, on my second trip to Ulukhaktok, I was there for the return of the Kingaliks and got the full jamboree experience. Food was a central part of this experience with meals like musk ox stir-fry, caribou quak (frozen meat delicacy), piffy (a dried char treat), and every combination in between.

Plucking contest at the Ulukhaktok Jamboree

What stood out as much as, if not more than, the food itself was the level of participation and cooperation that made these meals (serving 400 people) successful. Throughout the entire jamboree period, women of all generations could be seen chopping, stirring, frying, or cleaning so that there was always pan sizzling over the fires or someone mixing a stir-fry or flipping bannock. I joined in by picking up an ulu to slice, dice, chop, and mince ingredients destined for one of the many frying pans. The cooking process fascinated me and the food was delicious. Everyone took great pride in their dishes and their country food from the land and, as I was someone from out of town, they made sure that I had a taste of everything.

What struck me about these games was the way they promoted cross-generational interactions and learning.

The games were another fun part of the jamboree and included a fishing derby, a duck hunting competition, plucking feathers from a Kingalik or Mitiinnaq, and skinning a seal. What struck me about these games was the way they promoted cross-generational interactions and learning. For example, teams often consisted of Elders and youth who worked together to be the first to complete a task. It also quickly became apparent to me that these were more than just games; they were lessons and channels for cultural continuity and skills transmission. I watched as Elders guided their young teammates to shoot with precision, pull feathers in the proper direction, and flesh a sealskin to make it soft. The games were played with an impressive spirit of gamesmanship and integrity with focus on collective success. In addition to these team games there was an assortment of laughter inducing games such as ‘best goggle tan’, egg races, and karaoke.

The jamboree festivities demonstrated the strong community culture I experienced throughout my entire stay in Ulukhaktok. I learned that community collaboration and cooperation are important elements of life in Ulukhaktok. For example, those hunters who managed to harvest nearly 100 ducks would regularly share with their extended family or neighbours. Not every weekend in Ulukhaktok was as jam-packed as Jamboree weekend, but it was an excellent introductory course into the Ulukhaktok way of doing things.

Kaitlin Patterson and Stephanie Austin present at the 5th annual McGill Sustainability Research Symposium

2015 March 17

Kaitlin Patterson (IHACC member) and Stephanie Austin (TRAC3 and CCARG member) presented their research at the 5th annual McGill Sustainability Research Symposium March 13, 2015. Kaitlin discussed her research on food security among indigenous Batwa communities in Uganda, while Stephanie presented her research on climate change adaptation in Canada’s health sector.

Follow them on twitter! Stephanie: @se_austin and Kaitlin: @kaitlinaislin

Photo credit: Kate Trincsi

Photo credit: Stephanie Austin

Vulnerability and adaptive capacity of community food systems in the Peruvian Amazon: a case study from Panaillo

2015 March 16

Sherman, M., Ford, J.D., Llanos-Cuentas, A., Valdivia, M.J., Bussalleu, A. and the Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change (IHACC) Research Group. (2015). Find PDF here. Natural Hazards.


Rainfall variability and related hydrological disasters are serious threats to agricultural production in developing countries. Since projections of climate change indicate an increase in the frequency and intensity of climatic hazards such as flooding and droughts, it is important to understand communities’ adaptive capacity to extreme hydrological events. This research uses a case study approach to characterize the current vulnerability and adaptive capacity of the food system to hydrological hazards in Panaillo, a flood-prone indigenous community in the Peruvian Amazon. Participatory methods were utilized to examine how biophysical and socioeconomic factors constrain or enable local adaptive capacity to climatic hazards over time. Seasonal flooding was shown to strongly influence agriculture and fishing cycles. Panaillo residents have developed several adaptive strategies to adjust to hydrological extremes, such as food-sharing and the cultivation of fast-growing crops on riverbeds. However, Panaillo residents generally lack the necessary human, physical, social, and natural resources to effectively employ their adaptive mechanisms as a result of major social and environmental changes in the area. Economic development, low institutional capacity, climate variability, and the assimilation social model in Peru all have profound effects on the food system and health by affecting the ways in which adaptive strategies and traditional livelihoods are practiced. Climate change has the potential to exacerbate these socioeconomic and biophysical drivers and further compromise community food systems in the Peruvian Amazon in the future.

Vulnerability to climate change in three hot spots in Africa and Asia: key issues for policy-relevant adaptation and resilience-building research

2015 March 12

De Souza, K., Kituyi, E., Harvey, B., Leone, M., Murali, K.S., Ford, J.D. (2015). Find Open Access PDF here. Regional Environmental Change.


Providing sound evidence to inform decision-making that considers the needs of the most vulnerable to climate change will help both adaptation and development efforts. Such evidence is particularly important in climate change “hot spots”, where strong climate signal and high concentrations of vulnerable people are present. These hot spots include semiarid regions and deltas of Africa and Asia, and glacier- and snowpack-dependent river basins of South Asia. In advance of a major research effort focusing on these three hot spots, studies were commissioned to identify and characterize the current status of knowledge in each on biophysical impacts, social vulnerability, and adaptation policy and practice. The resulting seven papers are brought together in this special edition, with this editorial introduction providing background on these hot spots, the program through which the studies were commissioned, and an overview of the papers that follow.

TRAC3 Emerging Results Booklet available online

2015 March 10

The Tracking Research in Adaptation to Climate Change Consortium (TRAC3) was launched in 2014. Here, we present early TRAC3 research outputs, as well as relevant pre-2014 publications. Though some of these publications were not developed as TRAC3, they were all led by authors that are now members of TRAC3, reflect the research directions of the consortium, and demonstrate the foundational research that led to the creation of TRAC3.

CCARG members to participate in Finding your Coordinates

2015 March 10

Michelle Maillet and Stephanie Austin will be participating in the “Finding your Coordinates” panel event, presented by the Geography Mentorship Program. The panelists will be McGill Geography Alumni with diverse backgrounds and interests, here to talk about their career paths and choices along the way. It will be a casual event with lots of room for questions.

Details: Thursday March 12th, 5:00 – 7:00pm, in Burnside Hall Rm 426.
Link to the Facebook event page.

Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec blogs about TRAC3 research

2015 March 9

The Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec (INSPQ) posted about our recently published article “Public Health Adaptation to Climate Change in Canadian Jurisdictions” on their blog.

En ce qui concerne l’adaptation aux changements climatiques en santé au Canada, les disparités sont énormes ! En témoigne ce graphique publié dans la dernière étude de Stéphanie Austin de l’Université McGill nommée « Adaptation de la santé publique au changement climatique dans les institutions canadiennes » publiée dans le International Journal of Environmental research and public health. Le graphique ci-dessous traduit l’énorme différence entre le nombre d’initiatives mises en place selon les provinces canadiennes. Mettant en place de nombreuses initiatives dans le domaine de la santé en général, les maladies infectieuses, les initiatives liées à la chaleur, les inondations, les tempêtes et la sécurité alimentaire, le Québec se démarque dans toutes les catégories.

Continue reading in French by clicking here.

Kaitlyn Finner’s Notes from the Field

2015 March 6

Photo: Kaitlyn Finner

This week Masters student Kaitlyn Finner and community-based researchers Inez Shiwak and Lisa Palliser-Bennett are meeting with community members in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut to hear their perspectives on food inventories and photo card interviews that were conducted over the course of a year, from May 2013 to 2014.

The participatory methods were adapted for the Rigolet based project and the research team is working to better understand how the methods can be further adapted for future food related research in Rigolet, and other communities that may be interested.

It’s been a great week so far with lots of interviews and amazing weather, but the real highlight is set to take place this weekend when the 2015 Winter Sports Meet is held at Northern Lights Academy in Rigolet for school teams from along the Northern coast of Labrador!

Systematic review approaches for climate change adaptation research

2015 February 25

Berrang-Ford, L., Pearce, T., and Ford, J.D. (2015). Find Open Access PDF here. Regional Environmental Change.

Recent controversy has led to calls for increased standardization and transparency in the methods used to synthesize climate change research. Though these debates have focused largely on the biophysical dimensions of climate change, human dimensions research is equally in need of improved methodological approaches for research synthesis. Systematic review approaches, and more recently realist review methods, have been used within the health sciences for decades to guide research synthesis. Despite this, penetration of these approaches into the social and environmental sciences has been limited. Here, we present an analysis of approaches for systematic review and research synthesis and examine their applicability in an adaptation context. Customized review frameworks informed by systematic approaches to research synthesis provide a conceptually appropriate and practical opportunity for increasing methodological transparency and rigor in synthesizing and tracking adaptation research. This review highlights innovative applications of systematic approaches, with a focus on the unique challenges of integrating multiple data sources and formats in reviewing climate change adaptation policy and practice. We present guidelines, key considerations, and recommendations for systematic review in the social sciences in general and adaptation research in particular. We conclude by calling for increased conceptual and methodological development of systematic review approaches to address the methodological challenges of synthesizing and tracking adaptation to climate change.

Notes from the field: Lewis Archer in Arctic Bay

2015 February 20

Lewis Archer, MA student, is currently in Arctic Bay completing research on the changing levels of vulnerability and adaptive capacity of Inuit hunters in Nunavut. Here is a note and picture of him in the field.

It all seems to have happened on the eighth day of my research trip. Today (Feb 18th) I drove a skidoo for the first time. I ate seal brain. I ate seal liver. I ate seal flesh. All while still warm, minutes after it was killed. Probably the freshest meat I’ll ever eat.

Research is progressing well, I’ve interviewed seven hunters so far and some interesting themes around food security, socioeconomic status, and of course, environmental change are emerging. The biggest challenge so far has been technology, dictaphones, cameras and and phones all tend to freeze and break rather quickly in -44.

Lewis Archer in Arctic Bay. Photo by Acacia Johnson.

CCARG lab members were guest judges at Kahnawake Survival School’s grades 7-11 science fair!

2015 February 6

Four members from the team attended the annual Kahnawake Survival School Science Fair as guest judges on Wednesday, February 4th, 2015. The event was part of the Canada-Wide Science Fair competition. Some one hundred students from grades 7 to 11 participated, presenting a range of topics in the physical and social sciences. The event took place in the school gymnasium and was well attended and supported by parents and community members. The experience was a great opportunity for team members to interact with a local first nation community, and encourage youth to pursue the sciences and further their education. Here are some reflections from the CCARG lab members who attended:

“It was great to get outside of the University research bubble and see what young and aspiring scientists in the wider science community are interested in and what is happening at the middle and high school levels. The team found it really inspiring to talk to younger students about their science projects and ask them why they like science and what they aspire to. We were also amazed at the variety and level sophistication of some the projects. When we shared our selection of the final results with the teachers and vice-principal, the vice principal talked about the importance of encouraging native youth to pursue science and remind them that traditional knowledge and scientific knowledge can work together to bring a more holistic understanding of the world – a well put and important reminder for those of us in the University scientific community. We are honoured to have been able to be a part of this event and wish all the winning students the best of luck at the upcoming Québec-wide competition.”

Lewis, Jolène, Michelle and Sarah at the science fair

“The fair provided a fantastic opportunity for both the students of Kahnawake Survival School and members of our research group,” said Lewis. “The student’s science projects were diverse, often creative and well-thought out, with projects ranging from measuring emotional response to photography to a levitating, spinning magnet show. It was encouraging to see such passionate engagement with the sciences.”

Coverage and framing of climate change adaptation in the media: A review of influential North American newspapers during 1993–2013

2015 January 21

Ford, J.D., King, D. (2015). Find PDF here. Environmental Science & Policy.

The portrayal of climate change in the news has been a major focus of research over the last decade, reflecting the importance of the media in affecting public opinion and policy. This work has primarily focused on the science of climate change, impacts, and mitigation, yet our understanding on how adaptation is being profiled in the media is limited. In response to this gap, this paper quantitatively examines the coverage and framing of climate change adaptation in four influential North American newspapers between 1993 and 2013. Over the observation period, the total number of articles focusing on adaptation published each year increases, with peaks in reporting in 2007, 2012, and 2013. While adaptation has permeated news coverage, it still remains overshadowed by stories on impacts and mitigation, with increased reporting consistent with increased media attention to climate change over the last two decades. Of the newspaper articles with adaptation content (n = 271), the majority (53%) focus primarily on stating the need to adapt, as opposed to documenting actual preparations being undertaken for adaptation or profiling actual adaptations that have taken place. The types of adaptation being reported on are predominantly ‘hard’ in nature, profiling techno-engineering based responses to reduce potential climate change impacts, in contrast to ‘soft’ responses that seek to enhance resilience. This representation is particularly evident in reporting in 2012 and 2013. Adaptations being described in the selected newspaper articles are primarily anticipatory in nature up until 2011, after which adaptations are primarily discussed in terms of responding to extreme weather events, specifically in the context of a surge in reporting documented in response to Hurricane Sandy (2012) and flooding in Canada in 2013.

How are we adapting to climate change? A global assessment

2015 January 16

Lesnikowski, A.C., Ford, J.D., Berrang-Ford, L., Barrera, M., and Jody Heymann. (2015). Find PDF here. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change.


This paper applies a systematic approach to measuring adaptation actions being undertaken by 117 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with the goal of establishing a baseline of global trends in adaptation. Data are systematically collected from National Communications prepared by Parties to the Convention and submitted periodically to the Secretariat. 4,104 discrete adaptation initiatives are identified and analyzed. Our findings indicate that while progress is being made on conducting impact and vulnerability assessments and adaptation research in nearly every country in the sample, translation of this knowledge into tangible adaptation initiatives is still limited. The largest number of reported adaptations falls under the category of infrastructure, technology, and innovation. Some types of vulnerability were more frequently reported across initiatives, including floods, drought, food and water safety and security, rainfall, infectious disease, and terrestrial ecosystem health. Notably, reporting on the inclusion of vulnerable sub-populations is low across all actions. Diffusion of adaptation across sectors remains underdeveloped, with the environment, water, and agricultural sectors emerging as the most active adaptors. Our analysis indicates that national communications provide a valuable source of information for global-scale adaptation tracking, but important gaps exist in the consistency of reporting that should be addressed, as these documents could greatly enhance efforts to monitor and evaluate adaptation progress.

Public Health Adaptation to Climate Change in Canadian Jurisdictions

2015 January 16

Austin, S.E., Ford, J.D., Berrang-Ford, L., Araos, M., Parker, S., and Manon D. Fleury. (2015).Find PDF here. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.


Climate change poses numerous risks to the health of Canadians. Extreme weather events, poor air quality, and food insecurity in northern regions are likely to increase along with the increasing incidence and range of infectious diseases. In this study we identify and characterize Canadian federal, provincial, territorial and municipal adaptation to these health risks based on publically available information. Federal health adaptation initiatives emphasize capacity building and gathering information to address general health, infectious disease and heat-related risks. Provincial and territorial adaptation is varied. Quebec is a leader in climate change adaptation, having a notably higher number of adaptation initiatives reported, addressing almost all risks posed by climate change in the province, and having implemented various adaptation types. Meanwhile, all other Canadian provinces and territories are in the early stages of health adaptation. Based on publically available information, reported adaptation also varies greatly by municipality. The six sampled Canadian regional health authorities (or equivalent) are not reporting any adaptation initiatives. We also find little relationship between the number of initiatives reported in the six sampled municipalities and their provinces, suggesting that municipalities are adapting (or not adapting) autonomously.

The 4Cs of adaptation tracking: consistency, comparability, comprehensiveness, coherency

2015 January 16

James D. Ford, and Lea Berrang-Ford. (2015). Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. Read the open access article here.


Adaptation tracking seeks to characterize, monitor, and compare general trends in climate change adaptation over time and across nations. Recognized as essential for evaluating adaptation progress, there have been few attempts to develop systematic approaches for tracking adaptation. This is reflected in polarized opinions, contradictory findings, and lack of understanding on the state of adaptation globally. In this paper, we outline key methodological considerations necessary for adaptation tracking research to produce systematic, rigorous, comparable, and usable insights that can capture the current state of adaptation globally, provide the basis for characterizing and evaluating adaptations taking place, facilitate examination of what conditions explain differences in adaptation action across jurisdictions, and can underpin the monitoring of change in adaptation over time. Specifically, we argue that approaches to adaptation tracking need to (i) utilize a consistent and operational conceptualization of adaptation, (ii) focus on comparable units of analysis, (iii) use and develop comprehensive datasets on adaptation action, and (iv) be coherent with our understanding of what constitutes real adaptation. Collectively, these form the 4Cs of adaptation tracking (consistency, comparability, comprehensiveness, and coherency).