Inuit Food Systems, Security, and Safety

The Inuit are the predominant Indigenous group inhabiting Canada’s Arctic. Many of their cultural practices, including food collection and preparation, are reliant upon ice coverage, which makes this group particularly vulnerable to climate change

Country foods (e.g. fish, caribou, marine mammals) are vital to the Inuit food system. The acts of harvesting, preparing, sharing, and consuming country food are foundational to many Inuit cultural values. Health benefits of country food include high nutrition value, and associations with mental wellness, cultural continuity, increased physical activity, and decreased obesity. Consumption of retail foods has increased, despite the high cost, long shipping distance, and often poor nutritional content. Inuit food insecurity is the highest in Canada. Food safety is an increasing challenge; we found the highest rates of self-reported enteric illness in the world among Canadian Inuit, with unique retail and country food risk factors.

Climate Change & Food:

The Arctic is experiencing the most dramatic climate change globally, with impacts on the migration patterns and abundance of wildlife species important in local diet, as well as impacts on the safety of country food preparation and increased retail store shipment delays.  Our research found that Inuit men reported experiencing loss of identity and purpose due to climate change reducing the ability to hunt. 2 Inuit women reported significantly higher levels of stress and anxiety than men, particularly related to loved-ones safety in unstable ice conditions.

Relevant Publications

Harper, S.L., Edge, V.L., Ford, J., Thomas, M.K., IHACC Research Group, Rigolet Inuit Community Government, and McEwen, S.A. (2015). Lived experience of acute gastrointestinal illness in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut: “Just suffer through it”. Social Science & Medicine, 126: 86-98.

Petrasek MacDonald, J., Cunsolo Willox, A., Ford, J., Baikie, M., Shiwak, I., Wood, M., the IMHACC Team, and the Rigolet Inuit Community Government (2015). Youth-Identified Protective factors in a Changing Climate: Perspectives from Inuit Youth in Nunatsiavut, Labrador. Social Science and Medicine, 133-141. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.07.017

Petrasek MacDonald, J., Ford, J., Cunsolo Willox, A., Konek Productions, ‘My Word’: Storytelling & Digital Media Lab, Mitchell, C., and the Rigolet Inuit Community Government. (2015). Youth-Led Participatory Video as a Strategy to Enhance Inuit Youth Adaptive Capacities for Dealing with Climate Change. Arctic, 68(4), 486-499.

Harper, S.L., Edge, V.L., Ford, J., Cunsolo Willox, A., Wood, M., Thomas, K., IHACC Research Group, Rigolet Inuit Community Government, McEwen, S.A. (2015). Climate-Sensitive Health Priorities in Nunatsiavut, Canada. Revisions submitted, BMC Public Health,15:605.

Ostapchuk, J., Harpers, S., Cunsolo Willox, A., Edge, V., and the Rigolet Inuit Community Government. (2015). Climate Change Impacts on Inuit Health: Community Perceptions from Elders and Seniors in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, Canada. International Journal of Indigenous Health, 9(2). http://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/ijih/article/view/14358

Ford, J., Cunsolo-Willox, A., Chatwood, S., Furgal, C., Harper, S., Mauro, I., and Pearce, T. (2014).Adapting to the effects of climate change on Inuit health. American Journal of Public Health, 104(S3): e9-e17.

Petrasek MacDonald, J,. Ford, J., Cunsolo-Willox, A., and Ross, N. (2013). A review of protective factors and causal mechanisms that enhance the mental health of Indigenous Circumpolar youth. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 72.

Cunsolo Willox, A., Harper, S., Ford, J.D., Edge, V., Landman, K., Houle, K., Blake, S. and Wolfrey, C. (2013). Climate Change and Mental Health:  An Exploratory Case Study from Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, Labrador. Climatic Change.  DOI 10.1007/s10584-013-0875-4. Click here for paper.

Ford, J. (2012) Ford responds: Letter in response to Macpherson and Akpinar-Elci comment on Ford’s “Indigenous Health and Climate Change”. American Journal of Public Health, 103(1).

Ford, J. (2012). Indigenous health and climate change. American Journal of Public Health, 102(7): 1260-1266.

Ford J, and Pearce T (2012) Climate change vulnerability and adaptation research focusing on the Inuit subsistence sector in Canada: Directions for future research. The Canadian Geographer, 56(2): 275-287.

Ford J, Bolton KC, Shirley J, Pearce T, Tremblay M, and Westlake M (2012) Research on the Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut: A Literature Review and Gap Analysis. Arctic, 65(3): 289-304.

Cunsolo Willox, A., Harper, S., Ford, J., Landman, K., Houle, K., Edge, V., and the Rigolet Inuit Community Government (2012). “From this Place and of this Place”: Climate Change, Health, and Place in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, Canada. Social Sciences and Medicine, 75(3), 538-547. Click here for paper.

Harper, S.,Edge, V., Cunsolo Willox, A., and the Rigolet Inuit Community Government. (2012). ‘Changing Climate, Changing Health, Changing Stories’ Profile: Using an EcoHealth Approach to Explore Impacts of Climate Change on Inuit Health. EcoHealth, 9(1), 89-101.Click here for paper.

Petrasek MacDonald, J., Harper, S., Cunsolo Willox, A., and the Rigolet Inuit Community Government (2012). A Necessary Voice: Considering Climate Change through the Lived Experience of Inuit Youth in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, Canada.  Global Environmental Change. Click here for paper.

Ford J, Bolton KC, Shirley J, Pearce T, Tremblay M, and Westlake M (2012) Mapping human dimensions of climate change research in the Canadian Arctic. Ambio, 41(8): 808-822.

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