Nunavut Research Institute

Igloolik, Canada

Nunavut Research Institute

Igloolik, Canada
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Ford J.D.,McGill University | McDowell G.,McGill University | Shirley J.,Nunavut Research Institute | Pitre M.,The Lonsdale Group | And 6 more authors.
Annals of the Association of American Geographers | Year: 2013

This article advances a vulnerability framework to understand how climatic risks and change are experienced and responded to by Inuit harvesters using a case study from Iqaluit, Nunavut. The article makes important contributions to methodological design in vulnerability studies, emphasizing the importance of longitudinal study design, real-time observations of human-environment interactions, community-based monitoring, and mixed methods. Fieldwork spanned five years, during which sixty-four semistructured interviews were conducted and historical records examined to develop an understanding of the processes and conditions affecting vulnerability. A local land use monitoring team was established, collecting ∼22,000 km of land use Global Positioning System (GPS) data and engaging in biweekly interviews (more than 100) on exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. This was complemented by analysis of instrumental data on sea ice and climate conditions. Results indicate that sea ice conditions are changing rapidly and affecting trail conditions, safety, and access to harvesting grounds. GPS data and biweekly interviews document real-time adaptations, with traditional knowledge and land-based skills, resource use flexibility, and mobility underpinning significant adaptability, including utilizing new areas, modifying trail routes, and taking advantage of an extended open water season. Sociospatial reorganization following resettlement in the 1950s and 1960s, however, has created dependency on external conditions, has reduced the flexibility of harvesting activities, and has affected knowledge systems. Within the context of these "slow" variables, current responses that are effective in moderating vulnerability could undermine adaptive capacity in the long term, representing overspecialized adaptations, creating the potential for further loss of response diversity and flexibility, and engendering potential downstream effects, creating trajectories of maladaptation. These findings challenge previous research that has argued that current resilience of the Inuit socioecological system is indicative of high adaptive capacity to future change and indicates that climate change might pose more serious risks to the harvesting sector than previously assumed. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


Medeiros A.S.,York University | Luszczek C.E.,York University | Shirley J.,Nunavut Research Institute | Quinlan R.,York University
Arctic | Year: 2011

Recent residential, commercial, and industrial development in the catchments of several Arctic streams has heightened the need to assess these freshwater systems accurately. It was imperative to develop methods that would be both effective at judging ecological condition of tundra streams and suitable for use by local groups. An investigation of two streams influenced by urbanization in Iqaluit, Nunavut, was carried out between July and August each year in 2007 - 09. Simple summary metrics (e.g., Shannon Index) and multivariate analysis (DCA, RD A) both demonstrated biological impairment in the benthic community at site locations downstream of urbanized portions of a local stream. This impairment was characterized by a loss of diversity and a dramatic shift of the benthic community to one dominated by chironomids from the subfamily Orthocladiinae. Elevated levels of total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) and several metals (Zn, Sr, Rb, Al, Co, Fe) were also found to be significantly related to benthic assemblages within these disturbed areas. This investigation also addressed taxonomic sufficiency, indicating that while family-level taxonomic identifications were sensitive enough to differentiate between pristine and impacted stream sites, a more precise taxonomic identification of the dominant benthos taxa (Insecta: Diptera: Chironomidae) to sub-family/tribe level identified a significant shift towards pollution-tolerant taxa. This higher taxonomic resolution will allow for the adaptation of protocols and the use of simple summary metrics to be effective for a community-based biomonitoring program in Arctic tundra streams. © The Arctic Institute of North America.


Healey G.K.,Qaujigiartiit Health Research Center | Magner K.M.,University of Toronto | Ritter R.,Nunavut Arctic College | Kamookak R.,Gjoa Haven Health Center | And 6 more authors.
Arctic | Year: 2011

The purpose of this study was to explore community perspectives on the most important ways that climate change is affecting the health of northern peoples. The study was conducted in Iqaluit, Nunavut, using a participatory action approach and the photovoice research method. Participants identified themes and patterns in the data and developed a visual model of the relationships between the themes identified. Five themes emerged from the data: the direct impacts of climate change on the health of individuals and communities, the transition from past climates to future climates, necessary adaptation to the changing climate in the North, the call to action (individual, regional, and national), and reflection on the past and changing knowledge systems. A climate change and health model was developed to illustrate the relationships between the themes. Participants in this study conceptualized health and climate change broadly. Participants believed that by engaging in a process of ongoing reflection, and by continually incorporating new knowledge and experiences into traditional knowledge systems, communities may be better able to adapt and cope with the challenges to health posed by climate change. © The Arctic Institute of North America.


Ford J.D.,McGill University | Bolton K.,McGill University | Shirley J.,Nunavut Research Institute | Pearce T.,University of Guelph | And 2 more authors.
Ambio | Year: 2012

This study maps current understanding and research trends on the human dimensions of climate change (HDCC) in the eastern and central Canadian Arctic. Developing a systematic literature review methodology, 117 peer reviewed articles are identified and examined using quantitative and qualitative methods. The research highlights the rapid expansion of HDCC studies over the last decade. Early scholarship was dominated by work documenting Inuit observations of climate change, with research employing vulnerability concepts and terminology now common. Adaptation studies which seek to identify and evaluate opportunities to reduce vulnerability to climate change and take advantage of new opportunities remain in their infancy. Over the last 5 years there has been an increase social science-led research, with many studies employing key principles of community-based research. We currently have baseline understanding of climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability in the region, but key gaps are evident. Future research needs to target significant geographic disparities in understanding, consider risks and opportunities posed by climate change outside of the subsistence hunting sector, complement case study research with regional analyses, and focus on identifying and characterizing sustainable and feasible adaptation interventions. © Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2012.


Harper S.L.,University of Guelph | Edge V.L.,University of Guelph | Edge V.L.,Public Health Agency of Canada | Ford J.,McGill University | And 5 more authors.
Epidemiology and Infection | Year: 2015

Summary Food- and waterborne disease is thought to be high in some Canadian Indigenous communities; however, the burden of acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) is not well understood due to limited availability and quality of surveillance data. This study estimated the burden of community-level self-reported AGI in the Inuit communities of Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, and Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. Cross-sectional retrospective surveys captured information on AGI and potential environmental risk factors. Multivariable logistic regression models identified potential AGI risk factors. The annual incidence of AGI ranged from 2·9-3·9 cases/person per year in Rigolet and Iqaluit. In Rigolet, increased spending on obtaining country foods, a homeless person in the house, not visiting a cabin recently, exposure to puppies, and alternative sources of drinking water were associated with increased odds of AGI. In Iqaluit, eating country fish often, exposure to cats, employment status of the person responsible for food preparation, not washing the countertop with soap after preparing meat, a homeless person in the house, and overcrowding were associated with increased odds of AGI. The results highlight the need for systematic data collection to better understand and support previously anecdotal indications of high AGI incidence, as well as insights into unique AGI environmental risk factors in Indigenous populations. Copyright © 2015 Cambridge University Press.


Ford J.D.,McGill University | Bolton K.C.,McGill University | Shirley J.,Nunavut Research Institute | Pearce T.,University of Guelph | And 2 more authors.
Arctic | Year: 2012

Research on the human dimensions of climate change (HDCC) in the Canadian Arctic has expanded so rapidly over the past decade that we do not have a clear grasp of the current state of knowledge or research gaps. This lack of clarity has implications for duplication of climate policy and research, and it has been identified as a problem by communities, scientists, policy makers, and northern organizations. Our review of current knowledge about the HDCC in Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut indicates that the effects of climate change on subsistence harvesting and other land-based activities and the determinants of vulnerability and adaptation to such changes are well understood. However, the effects of climate change on health are less known. In the nascent research on this topic, studies on food security and personal safety dominate, and little peer-reviewed scholarship focuses on the business and economic sector. Published research shows a strong bias toward case studies in smaller communities, especially communities in Nunavut. Such studies have focused primarily on negative impacts of climate change, present-day vulnerabilities, and adaptive capacity, but studies proposing opportunities for adaptation intervention are beginning to emerge. While documenting the serious risks posed by climate change, they also highlight the adaptability of northern populations and the effects of economic-political stresses on vulnerability to changing climate. We note the absence of studies that examine how Northerners can benefit from new opportunities that may arise from climate change, or assess how the interaction of future climatic and socio-economic changes (specifically, resource development and enhanced shipping) will affect their experience of and response to climate change, or discuss the broader determinants of vulnerability and adaptation. © The Arctic Institute of North America.


PubMed | McGill University, University of Guelph and Nunavut Research Institute
Type: | Journal: International journal of circumpolar health | Year: 2015

The incidence of self-reported acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, and Iqaluit, Nunavut, is higher than reported elsewhere in Canada; as such, understanding AGI-related healthcare use is important for healthcare provision, public health practice and surveillance of AGI.This study described symptoms, severity and duration of self-reported AGI in the general population and examined the incidence and factors associated with healthcare utilization for AGI in these 2 Inuit communities.Cross-sectional survey data were analysed using multivariable exact logistic regression to examine factors associated with individuals self-reported healthcare and over-the-counter (OTC) medication utilization related to AGI symptoms.In Rigolet, few AGI cases used healthcare services [4.8% (95% CI=1.5-14.4%)]; in Iqaluit, some cases used healthcare services [16.9% (95% CI=11.2-24.7%)]. Missing traditional activities due to AGI (OR=3.8; 95% CI=1.18-12.4) and taking OTC medication for AGI symptoms (OR=3.8; 95% CI=1.2-15.1) were associated with increased odds of using healthcare services in Iqaluit. In both communities, AGI severity and secondary symptoms (extreme tiredness, headache, muscle pains, chills) were significantly associated with increased odds of taking OTC medication.While rates of self-reported AGI were higher in Inuit communities compared to non-Inuit communities in Canada, there were lower rates of AGI-related healthcare use in Inuit communities compared to other regions in Canada. As such, the rates of healthcare use for a given disease can differ between Inuit and non-Inuit communities, and caution should be exercised in making comparisons between Inuit and non-Inuit health outcomes based solely on clinic records and healthcare use.


PubMed | McGill University, University of Guelph and Nunavut Research Institute
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Epidemiology and infection | Year: 2015

Food- and waterborne disease is thought to be high in some Canadian Indigenous communities; however, the burden of acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) is not well understood due to limited availability and quality of surveillance data. This study estimated the burden of community-level self-reported AGI in the Inuit communities of Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, and Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. Cross-sectional retrospective surveys captured information on AGI and potential environmental risk factors. Multivariable logistic regression models identified potential AGI risk factors. The annual incidence of AGI ranged from 29-39 cases/person per year in Rigolet and Iqaluit. In Rigolet, increased spending on obtaining country foods, a homeless person in the house, not visiting a cabin recently, exposure to puppies, and alternative sources of drinking water were associated with increased odds of AGI. In Iqaluit, eating country fish often, exposure to cats, employment status of the person responsible for food preparation, not washing the countertop with soap after preparing meat, a homeless person in the house, and overcrowding were associated with increased odds of AGI. The results highlight the need for systematic data collection to better understand and support previously anecdotal indications of high AGI incidence, as well as insights into unique AGI environmental risk factors in Indigenous populations.


Inuksuk A.,Nunavut Research Institute
Canadian Geographer | Year: 2011

This text is the English translation of an interview conducted in Inuktitut by a younger Inuit, Paul Irngaut, with an experienced Inuit elder, Aipilik Inuksuk, on the topic of sea ice. Inuksuk describes his knowledge of sea ice while remembering his own experiences. The interview was recorded in 1988 in Igloolik as part of the Igloolik Oral History Project. © The Canadian Geographer © 2011 Canadian Association of Geographers.


Black P.,University of Ottawa | Saleem A.,University of Ottawa | Dunford A.,Nunavut Research Institute | Guerrero-Analco J.,University of Ottawa | And 4 more authors.
Planta Medica | Year: 2011

Northern Labrador tea, Rhododendron tomentosum ssp. subarcticum, is one of the most commonly used medicinal plants by Inuit and other First Nations peoples of Canada. The phenolic profile and seasonal variation of this commonly used medicinal plant remains largely unknown. To assess optimal harvesting time, R. tomentosum was collected in accordance with traditional knowledge practices bimonthly throughout the snow-free summer in Iqaluit, Nunavut. The antioxidant potency was measured in a DPPH radical scavenging assay, and the anti-inflammatory activity was determined with a TNF- production assay. The seasonal variation of phenolic content was assessed with HPLCDAD for fifteen of the most abundant phenolic compounds; (+)-catechin, chlorogenic acid, para-coumaric acid, quercetin 3-O-galactoside (hyperoside), quercetin 3-O-glucoside (isoquercitrin), quercetin 3-O-rhamnoside (quercitrin), quercetin pentoside, myricetin, quercetin, 3 procyanidins, and 3 caffeic acid derivatives. The most abundant constituent was (+)-catechin, which made up 19% of the total weight of characterized phenolics. There was significant seasonal variation in the quantity of all fifteen constituents assessed, whereas there was no seasonal variation of their total sum. The antioxidant activity was positively correlated with phenolic content and negatively correlated with daylight hours. The anti-inflammatory activity was negatively correlated with caffeic acid derivative 1 and daylight hours. Together these results demonstrate that the timing of harvest of R. tomentosum impacts the plant's phenolic content and its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. © Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart·New York·.

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