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Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Canada

Rosol R.,McGill University | Huet C.,McGill University | Wood M.,Nunatsiavut Government | Lennie C.,Inuvialuit Regional Corporation | And 2 more authors.
International Journal of Circumpolar Health | Year: 2011

Objectives. Assess the prevalence of food insecurity by region among Inuit households in the Canadian Arctic. Study design. A community-participatory, cross-sectional Inuit health survey conducted through faceto- face interviews. Methods. A quantitative household food security questionnaire was conducted with a random sample of 2,595 self-identified Inuit adults aged 18 years and older, from 36 communities located in 3 jurisdictions (Inuvialuit Settlement Region; Nunavut; Nunatsiavut Region) during the period from 2007 to 2008. Weighted prevalence of levels of adult and household food insecurity was calculated. Results. Differences in the prevalence of household food insecurity were noted by region, with Nunavut having the highest prevalence of food insecurity (68.8%), significantly higher than that observed in Inuvialuit Settlement Region (43.3%) and Nunatsiavut Region (45.7%) (p≤0.01). Adults living in households rated as severely food insecure reported times in the past year when they or other adults in the household had skipped meals (88.6%), gone hungry (76.9%) or not eaten for a whole day (58.2%). Adults living in households rated as moderately food insecure reported times in the past year when they worried that food would run out (86.5%) and when the food did not last and there was no money to buy more (87.8%). Conclusions. A high level of food insecurity was reported among Inuit adults residing in the Canadian Arctic, particularly for Nunavut. Immediate action and meaningful interventions are needed to mitigate the negative health impacts of food insecurity and ensure a healthy Inuit population.

Organ J.,Dalhousie University | Castleden H.,Dalhousie University | Castleden H.,Queens University | Furgal C.,Dalhousie University | And 3 more authors.
Health and Place | Year: 2014

Rapid socio-cultural, economic, and environmental changes are challenging wild food access and thus food security for Inuit in the Canadian Arctic. In response to the continued value and practice of harvesting wild foods, communities are establishing "wild food support" initiatives. This study evaluated how one such initiative, a community freezer, in Nain, Nunatsiavut supported wild food access for community members. Data were collected through: interviews and focus groups with users, freezer managers, and active harvesters; participant observation; and document analysis. Results indicated that the community freezer supported socio-cultural, economic and local access to wild foods. However, there were issues associated with supply, dependency, social exclusion, and tension between feasibility and traditional values and practices. Communities, governments, and policymakers are urged to consider social and physical location as factors when investing in and monitoring such initiatives. The Nunatsiavut Government and the Nain Inuit Community Government have since worked together to modify this early freezer initiative due, in part, to this study's findings. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

News Article | April 20, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

It’s a tale as old as time: energy company proposes big project, energy company says it will have no effects on the local population, local population says it’ll actually poison their land, and their people, for decades. Classic! The energy company in question here is Nalcor Energy, and the project is the multi-billion dollar Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam in Labrador, Newfoundland, which got the green light from the provincial government in 2012. Flooding the reservoir to build the dam will release toxic methylmercury into the area around nearby Lake Melville, but Nalcor argues that it will be diluted enough to have no effect on the local Inuit population. But a new study, commissioned by the aboriginal Nunatsiavut Government and completed by scientists from Memorial University, Harvard, and the University of Manitoba, says that the toxic mercury released during the dam’s construction will have highly detrimental effects on the area’s wildlife and the aboriginal people who live off of it. More than 200 individuals (and their children and grandchildren) could be affected by the toxic mercury, the study’s authors concluded. Additionally, 66 percent of the community in nearby Rigolet will be pushed above acceptable mercury levels, per the most conservative US Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, according to the report. Nalcor’s more positive assessment of the dam’s effects was ”false and based on incorrect assumptions,” a summary of the study for policymakers states. “The findings from epidemiological studies show that [mercury] is associated with lifelong neurocognitive deficits,” Harvard epidemiologist and study co-author Elsie Sunderland told me. “This isn’t something that you would see visibly. It’s basically a direct impact on their brain development, so they wouldn’t realize the potential they would have without this kind of exposure.” One of the main indicators of this kind of mercury exposure is children with lowered IQs, Sunderland said. Gilbert Bennett, vice-president of the Nalcor project that oversees the Muskrat Falls dam, said in a prepared statement sent to Motherboard that "we do not predict that creation of the Muskrat Falls reservoir will heighten risk to people in Lake Melville." “We will carefully review the assumptions, approaches, parameters and outcomes of the study by Nunatsiavut Government, and any implications of the report on the project’s ongoing environmental effects monitoring programs,” the statement reads. A spokesperson for Newfoundland and Labrador's minister of environment and conservation Perry Trimper said the minister has yet to make a decision on the environmental impacts of the Muskrat Falls project, and will take the recent study's findings into consideration. Watch more from Motherboard: Oil and Water According to Sunderland, contamination of the region would take just 120 hours, and the effects would persist for decades. “We are looking at multiple generations of exposure to higher levels of methylmercury,” Sunderland said. So, how did Nalcor not catch this, if these findings are right? According to Sunderland, Nalcor simply did not take the needed measurements, and instead just assumed that the mercury would be diluted. If Nalcor had done the work, they would have seen that this is flatly untrue, she contended. “I don’t see this as a difference in opinion, or a difference in findings,” said Sunderland. “That’s a misrepresentation, because they didn’t have any findings. They didn’t study the physical characteristics of the estuary.” Nalcor declined to comment directly on this allegation. To offset the impacts of releasing methylmercury into the environment, the researchers suggest completely clearing the area of trees, vegetation, and topsoil. Even then, however, the report suggests around 30 Inuit people will be negatively affected by the high levels of mercury. “Removal of soil from the reservoir was not considered during the environmental assessment and therefore is not part of our construction plans,” Bennett said in his statement. The flooding of the reservoir to build the Muskrat Falls dam is scheduled to take place later this year, and the dam is set to be constructed by 2017.

Harper S.L.,University of Guelph | Edge V.L.,University of Guelph | Ford J.,McGill University | Willox A.C.,Cape Breton University | And 2 more authors.
BMC Public Health | Year: 2015

Background: This exploratory study used participatory methods to identify, characterize, and rank climate-sensitive health priorities in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, Canada. Methods: A mixed method study design was used and involved collecting both qualitative and quantitative data at regional, community, and individual levels. In-depth interviews with regional health representatives were conducted throughout Nunatsiavut (n=11). In addition, three PhotoVoice workshops were held with Rigolet community members (n=11), where participants took photos of areas, items, or concepts that expressed how climate change is impacting their health. The workshop groups shared their photographs, discussed the stories and messages behind them, and then grouped photos into re-occurring themes. Two community surveys were administered in Rigolet to capture data on observed climatic and environmental changes in the area, and perceived impacts on health, wellbeing, and lifestyles (n=187). Results: Climate-sensitive health pathways were described in terms of inter-relationships between environmental and social determinants of Inuit health. The climate-sensitive health priorities for the region included food security, water security, mental health and wellbeing, new hazards and safety concerns, and health services and delivery. Conclusions: The results highlight several climate-sensitive health priorities that are specific to the Nunatsiavut region, and suggest approaching health research and adaptation planning from an EcoHealth perspective. © 2015 Harper et al.

Minich K.,McGill University | Saudny H.,McGill University | Lennie C.,Inuvialuit Regional Corporation | Wood M.,Nunatsiavut Government | And 3 more authors.
International Journal of Circumpolar Health | Year: 2011

Objectives. Evaluate housing characteristics across Inuit regions in Canada that participated in the 2007-2008 International Polar Year (IPY) Inuit Health Survey. Study design. A cross-sectional Inuit Health Survey. Methods. Housing characteristics were ascertained as part of the IPY Inuit Health Survey through interviews conducted in 33 coastal and 3 inland communities, representing all communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) of NWT, Nunavut and Nunatsiavut of northern Labrador. Variable descriptive statistics were weighted and presented by region and by whether children were present or not in each household. Results. A total of 2,796 Inuit households were approached, of which 68% participated (n=1,901 households). In ISR and Nunavut, approximately 20% of homes provided shelter to the homeless compared to 12% in Nunatsiavut (p≤0.05). The prevalence of public housing and household crowding also varied by region, with Nunavut having a statistically significantly higher prevalence of crowding (30%) than Nunatsiavut (12%) and ISR (12%). Household crowding was more prevalent among homes with children. Overall, 40% of homes were in need of major repairs and problems with mould were reported in 20% of households. Conclusions. Adequate shelter is a basic human need and an essential foundation for thriving population health. The results indicate that improvements in housing indicators are needed. Of utmost concern is the high prevalence of overcrowding in Inuit homes with children, which poses potential consequences for children's health and well-being. Further, the high percentage of homes providing shelter to the homeless suggests that hidden homelessness needs to be addressed by further research and program implementation.

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