Over the last decade, climate change researchers as well as Northern communities have begun to understand the degree of climate change and health impacts in Canada. Climate change is a health issue as well as an environmental one. The health implications resulting from a warmer and more unpredictable climate will not be distributed evenly: current health status, geography, age, economics, gender, and genetics are all key variables affecting the ability of individuals and communities to adapt and reduce the effects of climate change.
The expected outcomes of a warmer planet are numerous and will have direct and indirect health implications particularly for Northern communities. To help address these issues, it is important to involve communities in monitoring, discussing, advocating, and participating with the process of adaptation. Health Canada, as a part of the federal government’s overall climate change strategy, has developed a program to fund community-centered research, where the research is to be done by community members to find culturally appropriate and locally-based, long-term human health adaptation strategies.
Health Canada’s Program for Climate Change and Health Adaptation in Northern First Nation and Inuit Communities is designed to be carried out by communities in cooperation with Aboriginal associations, academics, governments and agencies. One of the aims of this community-based research initiative is to develop relevant communication materials that will help policy and decision-makers at the community, regional, and national levels with respect to human health and a changing environment.
From the launch of the Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program in 2008 through 2011, Health Canada funded 37 community-based projects which stretched across the North and looked at various research topics touching on climate change and health issues. All the proposals that met basic criteria were reviewed by either a First Nations or Inuit Selection committee.
February 2011 Workshop
In February 2011, a pan Arctic results and innovations workshop will be held in Ottawa, Ontario to evaluate and discuss the various outcomes of the program. All participating communities have been invited to attend and share their experiences and findings. Highlights will include the development and testing of methodologies for northern community-based research, findings relevant to climate change and health, capacity building for research in the communities, and new initiatives which have engaged youth and promote leadership.
This workshop will both encapsulate the climate change and health adaptation program as well as lay the groundwork for bringing the findings and lessons learned to bear on policy makers. It will also contribute towards developing materials that can aid in decision-making at the community, regional, and national levels. Moreover, the meeting location in Ottawa will help facilitate the dissemination of information at the federal level and build partnerships between community representatives and program planners.
To accomplish these goals, a workshop organizing committee has been established with the participation of northern partners and FNIHB program leaders to plan the meeting. This website has also been established to provide up-to-date information on workshop activities as well as a registration portal for both invited and prospective participants.