, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 89–101 | Cite as

‘Changing Climate, Changing Health, Changing Stories’ Profile: Using an EcoHealth Approach to Explore Impacts of Climate Change on Inuit Health

  • S. L. Harper
  • V. L. Edge
  • A. Cunsolo Willox
  • Rigolet Inuit Community Government


Global climate change and its impact on public health exemplify the challenge of managing complexity and uncertainty in health research. The Canadian North is currently experiencing dramatic shifts in climate, resulting in environmental changes which impact Inuit livelihoods, cultural practices, and health. For researchers investigating potential climate change impacts on Inuit health, it has become clear that comprehensive and meaningful research outcomes depend on taking a systemic and transdisciplinary approach that engages local citizens in project design, data collection, and analysis. While it is increasingly recognised that using approaches that embrace complexity is a necessity in public health, mobilizing such approaches from theory into practice can be challenging. In 2009, the Rigolet Inuit Community Government in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, Canada partnered with a transdisciplinary team of researchers, health practitioners, and community storytelling facilitators to create the Changing Climate, Changing Health, Changing Stories project, aimed at developing a multi-media participatory, community-run methodological strategy to gather locally appropriate and meaningful data to explore climate–health relationships. The goal of this profile paper is to describe how an EcoHealth approach guided by principles of transdisciplinarity, community participation, and social equity was used to plan and implement this climate–health research project. An overview of the project, including project development, research methods, project outcomes to date, and challenges encountered, is presented. Though introduced in this one case study, the processes, methods, and lessons learned are broadly applicable to researchers and communities interested in implementing EcoHealth approaches in community-based research.


EcoHealth Indigenous climate change health community-based research digital storytelling 



We would like to thank the community of Rigolet for their ongoing strong support for the project and for sharing their knowledge and stories. We would also like to thank Michelle Kinney, John Lampe, Gail Turner, Gwen Watts, and Michele Wood from the Nunatsiavut Government for their continued support. Thanks also to Carol Brice-Bennett and Gwen Elliott from Labrador Grenfell Health for their support in this project. Particular thanks to the Rigolet My Word team members: Marilyn Baikie, Sarah Blake, Libby Dean, Candice Elson, Liane Langstaff, Kathryn Marsilio, Joanna McDonald, Dan Michelin, Carlene Palliser, Joelene Pardy, Tanya Pottle, Ashley Shiwak, Inez Shiwak, Charlotte Wolfrey, Dina Wolfrey, and Andra Zommers. Thanks to Marilyn Baikie and Charlotte Wolfrey for editing the manuscript and to Joanna McDonald and Adam Bonnycastle for assistance in creating Fig. 1. Financial support was provided by the Climate Change and Health Adaptation in Northern First Nations and Inuit Communities program through Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, the Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments, and the Nunatsiavut Department of Health and Social Development as well as the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship to Sherilee Harper) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (J-Armond Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship to Ashlee Cunsolo Willox).


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Copyright information

© International Association for Ecology and Health 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. L. Harper
    • 1
  • V. L. Edge
    • 1
  • A. Cunsolo Willox
    • 2
  • Rigolet Inuit Community Government
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Population MedicineUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.School of Environmental Design & Rural DevelopmentUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  3. 3.Rigolet Inuit Community GovernmentNunatsiavutCanada

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