Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program for Northern First Nations and Inuit Communities

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Diane McClymont Peace, Environmental Health Research Division, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Health Canada. Presentation at the HOUSING REALITIES FOR INUIT 2012 WORKSHOP organized by Inuit …

Diane McClymont Peace, Environmental Health Research Division, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Health Canada. Presentation at the HOUSING REALITIES FOR INUIT 2012 WORKSHOP organized by Inuit Tuttarvingat of NAHO, February 16, 2012.

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  • There were poster sessions, presentations, video presentations, break out groups, informal and policy discussions.
  • The Arctic ice cap reached its smallest extent ever in 2007 (above, top), about 50 percent of its size in the 1950s. The image beneath it shows the ice cap’s average area in 1979-1981. (NASA images) Global warming is having a severe affect on the polar bears ( Ursus meritimus ). The effect of global warming is melting the arctic ice cap, an important part of the polar bear's habitat. The polar bears need the ice to survive. They are animals who reside in the water, ice and land. They swim through the water to get to the ice where seals rest. But with the ice melting, the polar bears are having to swim for hundreds of miles before reaching their hunting ground, if they reach it at all.
  • The Arctic ice cap reached its smallest extent ever in 2007 (above, top), about 50 percent of its size in the 1950s. The image beneath it shows the ice cap’s average area in 1979-1981. (NASA images) Global warming is having a severe affect on the polar bears ( Ursus meritimus ). The effect of global warming is melting the arctic ice cap, an important part of the polar bear's habitat. The polar bears need the ice to survive. They are animals who reside in the water, ice and land. They swim through the water to get to the ice where seals rest. But with the ice melting, the polar bears are having to swim for hundreds of miles before reaching their hunting ground, if they reach it at all.
  • (Smith and Burgess, 2004, in NRCan 2007). Kusawa Lake, Y.T.: likely resulting from a combination of permafrost degradation and high rainfall.
  • Naqsaq is a year-round hunting and fishing camp about forty-five miles southwest of Clyde River. Beyond the cabins, a retreating glacier leaves a cascade of gravel in its wake. Many local glaciers have been receding recently; the meltwater has eroded riverbanks and destroyed some campsites.
  • Camp on Ellesmere Island, during yet another snow storm, July 1989 Crossing a glacier stream, using a pole for support. Western Axel Heiberg Island, July 1983.
  • An Arctic community – Tuktoyaktuk that has seen its fire hall sink and roads buckle in the melting permafrost is now shifting future building projects away from town. Buildings are also showing the impact of the changing climate. If you roll a marble on the floor in one Cambridge Bay home, it gravitates to the centre because the building is buckling in due to permafrost melt underneath. In a cabin located outside of town, water started flowing up through the floor, also due to permafrost melt. For years, the people of Salluit, shielded by a bunker-like valley on Sugluk Inlet off the Hudson Strait, faced the prospect of uprooting their town to move away from the defrosting turf. Following two years of scientific studies, experts have concluded the village can stay put. But the community's much-needed expansion will have to go elsewhere and follow specific construction guidelines. A number of communities are looking at permafrost issues before moving ahead on specific adaptation strategies
  • An exposure of easily eroded sandy sediments behind new houses being built in Clyde River. These sediments were deposited in the sea at the end the last glaciation; abundant shells (white material) can be seen throughout. Identifying where such sediments can be found are important to determining where houses should be built, and where surface disturbances should be avoided. A beach barrier of small boulders, upper left, has slowed the erosion of the peninsula in Tuktoyaktuk, Canada. Some geologists believe the protective Tuktoyaktuk Island, upper right, will erode away in 30-40 years, further exposing the village to Arctic Ocean wave erosion.
  • Tuktoyaktuk, even with shoreline enforcement is vulnerable. Vulnerability of arctic coasts to sea-level rise and erosion, showing land areas of the Arctic with elevations less than 10 m above mean sea level (red), regions with unlithified coasts (green), and regions with lithified coasts (brown) . Loss of sea ice exposes shorelines to the full force of wind and waves during fierce Arctic storms, resulting in rapid erosion. This cabin fell into the Beaufort Sea, (along Alaska’s Arctic coast) a region where some coastlines retreated more than 24 meters (80 feet) in 2007. (Photograph courtesy Benjamin Jones, USGS.)
  • http://archinstitute.blogspot.com/ Because of their unique position between scientists/engineers and social workers/artists, architects are sometimes the best guarantors of the successful preventive construction as well as the secure rebuilding effort after a disaster. Because they take into account human behavior and local culture, they are well equipped to anticipate the use given to their building programs. Methane bubbling in the Mackenzie delta.
  • “ When I hunt with the Elders they show me the real reason to hunt and provide for your community” (Interviewee)

Transcript

  • 1. Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program for Northern First Nations and Inuit Communities Housing Realities for Inuit 2012 Workshop February 16, 2012Diane McClymont PeaceEnvironmental Health Research DivisionFirst Nations and Inuit Health Branch
  • 2. Outline Background on Health Canada’s Climate Change Program for Northern Communities Climate Change in Canada’s Arctic Climate Change and Housing Contacts 2
  • 3. Background This program aims to build capacity in Canada’s north by funding northern First Nations and Inuit communities to:  conduct research on the impacts of climate change on human health, and  develop tools and methods to adapt to these changes. Communities determine the areas of study that are their priorities, not those of outside researchers. The communities are encouraged to work with associations, academics, and governments for assistance and expertise. These tools/materials are for decision-making for communities but can be applicable regionally, nationally and internationally. 3
  • 4. Proposals for FundingProposals are to include the following elements:  community-based/centred research, which can include one or a combination of the following: • identification of health risks including those affecting vulnerable peoples, • analysis of the risks to health, • health risk assessment, exposure and/or modeling data collection,  development of adaptation approaches to climate change impacts,  plan for communicating results back to the affected community/ communities, and  incorporation of local/traditional knowledge. 4
  • 5. Workshops Capacity-building workshops were held to explain the program and provide training on proposal preparation. Training included:  exploring environmental changes,  determining those related to climate change,  determining their effect on health, and  designing research proposals and budgets. 5
  • 6. Workshops A Pan-Arctic Results workshop was held February 8-10, 2011 to bring northern communities, who received funding under the program to showcase their research and results. Over 150 attendees, mostly northerners but also government and non-government representatives, scientists, policy-makers, MPs and Aboriginal leaders actively participated in the workshop. Their participation was a testament to the importance that communities held for their own research and for sharing information with others in the hopes of creating further awareness and policy change. 6
  • 7. GuidesFunding application guides and brochures have been developed and distributed. 7
  • 8. 36 Funded Communities - 2008-20112008-092009-102010-11 8
  • 9. Climate Change in the Arctic The Arctic is now experiencing some of the most rapid and severe climate change on Earth. These are contributing to major physical, ecological, social, and economic changes. 9
  • 10. Reduction in Sea Ice September 2007x 1979 September 2011 2003 2010 The Fall Arctic ice cap is about 50 percent of its size in the 1950s. 10
  • 11. Reduction in Sea Ice Gaping new cracks in the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, thex largest ice shelf left in the Arctic, in April 2008. 11
  • 12. Loss of Permafrost A global mean temperature increase of 2o will hugely impact the permafrost zoneAlthough the global average is 0.7o , the average forCanada’s north has been 2.3o 12
  • 13. Erosion 13
  • 14. Unpredictable Weatherx 14
  • 15. Climate Change and Housing - Permafrost Thawing permafrost especially in more susceptible areas (gullies, shorelines) is shifting houses, especially those that were build in sensitive areas or do not have free space between ground and floor. Thawing and freezing permafrost is destroying roads and other infrastructure used for transporting water and waste in communities, making delivery of these essential items more precarious. Melting ice is making ice roads unreliable and of shorter duration, which impacts delivery of building materials where there are ice roads. 15
  • 16. Climate Change and Housing - Erosion With less sea ice protecting shorelines, and more frequent and higher winds, shorelines and housing is being destroyed. Along rivers, roads are more frequently washed out or closed (Clyde River, Pangnirtung bridges) 16
  • 17. Climate Change and Housing – Sea-level Rise Most Inuit communities are coastal. Melting sea ice, melting glaciers, warming oceans, ice- free coasts, and storm surges are causing and will continue to cause or destroy houses and infrastructure; Some areas will rebound where there is existing ice; Canada may see damage such as that recorded in Alaska. 17
  • 18. Climate Change and Housing – Traditional Activities Because people are less comfortable going out on the land or on the ice, they are spending longer periods of time in crowded houses. This trend can increase the transmission of infections, increase exposure to indoor contaminants, and decrease physical activity, especially in the winter and shoulder seasons when people tend to be outside for shorter periods of time. 18
  • 19. Climate Change and Housing - WeatherThe following weather factors are affecting housing: More violent storms, high winds, dust in summer; More extreme temperatures and fluctuations, e.g., more freezing rain; Warmer summers when houses have been designed to keep the heat in (Iqaluit in 2009); More frequent and more intense forest fires where there are trees; tundra fires - lightening, methane; Unpredictable weather in turn increases the risk of depression, social stress and interpersonal conflict. 19
  • 20. Climate Change and Housing - Illnesses Warmer and more humid air is making drying fish less safe, and thawing of underground food caches is also resulting in food spoilage. These can increase the incidence of food poisoning and transmission to other household members in crowded housing. In humid coastal areas, especially Nunatsiavut, there in increased incidence of mould, which can increase when houses shift or crack. Most houses do not have screens. These would allow more fresh air in during the summer and keep biting and stinging insects out. Many are moving north. 20
  • 21. The Way Forward The Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program is bringing elders together with youth so they can learn about and experience the elders’ expertise and culture that have allowed them to survive for countless generations and to adapt to a rapidly changing world and environment. The physical environment is inseparable from that of their culture. This bringing together of generations is assisting the youth in regaining problem-solving and self sufficiency skills. A focus on strengths, opportunities, potentials, and current capacities creates for a more positive approach than focusing on vulnerability, weaknesses, and shortcomings. 21
  • 22. Discussion and ContactsDiane McClymont PeaceManager, Climate Change and Health AdaptationPhone: 613-946-9663diane.mcclymont-peace@hc-sc.gc.caErin MyersEnvironmental Research OfficerClimate Change and Health AdaptationPhone: 613-957-2490erin.myers@hc-sc.gc.ca 22