James D. Ford is with the Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec. Ashlee Cunsolo Willox is with the Department of Community Health, Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia. Susan Chatwood is with the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Christopher Furgal is with the Department of Indigenous Environmental Studies, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario. Sherilee Harper is with the Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Ontario. Ian Mauro is with the Department of Geography, University of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Tristan Pearce is with the University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydor, Queensland, Australia.
Climate change will have far-reaching implications for Inuit health. Focusing on adaptation offers a proactive approach for managing climate-related health risks-one that views Inuit populations as active agents in planning and responding at household, community, and regional levels. Adaptation can direct attention to the root causes of climate vulnerability and emphasize the importance of traditional knowledge regarding environmental change and adaptive strategies. An evidence base on adaptation options and processes for Inuit regions is currently lacking, however, thus constraining climate policy development. In this article, we tackled this deficit, drawing upon our understanding of the determinants of health vulnerability to climate change in Canada to propose key considerations for adaptation decision-making in an Inuit context.
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In September 2011, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services began supporting the Arctic Char Distribution Project (AC/DP) for pregnant women. This initiative promoted consumption of the fish Arctic char-a traditional Inuit food-by pregnant women living in villages of Nunavik, an area in northern Quebec (Canada) inhabited predominantly by people of Inuit ethnicity. This intervention was intended to reduce exposure to contaminants and improve food security in Inuit communities.
We assessed the project's implementation based on data collected from background documentation, field notes and qualitative interviews with project recipients and implementers. Themes emerging from the data are critically discussed in the light of the framework for implementation fidelity developed by Carroll et al in 2007.
Pregnant women fully embraced the initiative because of its cultural appropriateness. However, project implementation was incomplete: first because it did not cover all intended geographic areas, and second because of a recurring inconsistency in the supply and distribution of the fish. In addition, the initiative has been inconsistently funded and relies on multiple funding sources.
This work highlights the extent to which project complexity can impede successful implementation, particularly in terms of communication and coordination. We provide recommendations for improving project implementation and suggest amendments to the implementation fidelity framework.
Community-based adaptation (CBA) has emerged over the last decade as an approach to empowering communities to plan for and cope with the impacts of climate change. While such approaches have been widely advocated, few have critically examined the tensions and challenges that CBA brings. Responding to this gap, this article critically examines the use of CBA approaches with Inuit communities in Canada. We suggest that CBA holds significant promise to make adaptation research more democratic and responsive to local needs, providing a basis for developing locally appropriate adaptations based on local/indigenous and Western knowledge. Yet, we argue that CBA is not a panacea, and its common portrayal as such obscures its limitations, nuances, and challenges. Indeed, if uncritically adopted, CBA can potentially lead to maladaptation, may be inappropriate in some instances, can legitimize outside intervention and control, and may further marginalize communities. We identify responsibilities for researchers engaging in CBA work to manage these challenges, emphasizing the centrality of how knowledge is generated, the need for project flexibility and openness to change, and the importance of ensuring partnerships between researchers and communities are transparent. Researchers also need to be realistic about what CBA can achieve, and should not assume that research has a positive role to play in community adaptation just because it utilizes participatory approaches. WIREs Clim Change 2016, 7:175-191. doi: 10.1002/wcc.376 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.