New Open Access Article Released

Happy to have worked with a great group of students and colleagues on this paper, released through Open Access format on Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, critically examining community-based adaptation approaches within the Canadian North.

The abstract is below, but if you are interested in the full text, click here.


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Two New Research Reports Published

We are happy to share two newly-released and minted reports from community-led research in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, led by the Rigolet Inuit Community Government.

Inuit Mental Health & Adaptation to Climate Change


Hard copies are also being printed, so please contact us if you would like a copy mailed.

Introducing the IlikKuset-Illingannet/Culture-Connect Program!

I am extremely excited and pleased to share a new video celebrating the wonderful youth and mentors of the IlikKuset-Illingannet/Culture-Connect Program, which ran in Rigolet, Makkovik, and Postville, Nunatsiavut, Labrador.

This progracommap-390x470-2m united 5 youth and 5 mentors in each community to learn culturally-based skills, such as trapping, fur preparation, wild meat cooking, snowshoe making, carving, music, and art. Youth spent approximately 4-5 weeks with each mentor learning these skills, with approximately 2,500 youth-adult mentor hours in total throughout the program.

This video was made during a youth gathering in Rigolet in March/April 2014 to celebrate the end of the program. We were lucky enough to work with Jordan Konek of Konek Productions, editor extraordinaire, to make this video. Jordan flew in from Iqaluit, and after experiencing weather delay after weather delay, finally arrived in Rigolet and helped our group put this together in 48 hours!

Special thanks to the youth and mentors of this program, without whom this wouldn’t be possible. Your passion, dedication, wisdom, knowledge, and skills are inspiring! Thank you to the Inuit Community Governments of Rigolet, Makkovik, and Postville for supporting this program, and to Inez Shiwak from the ‘My Word’: Storytelling & Digital Media Lab in Rigolet, Michele Wood in the Nunatsiavut Department of Health & Social Development, and Joanna Petrasek MacDonald from McGill University for all your help and support!

Many thanks to Health Canada’s Climate Change and Health Adaptation in Northern First Nations and Inuit Communities program, the Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments, IK-ADAPT, IMHACC, and the Canada Research Chair program for funding.






A Participatory Video Created by Youth in Rigolet: Life in Rigolet

Over the past 6 years, I have had the immense pleasure and privilege of working with amazing folks from Nunatsiavut, Labrador. This work has changed my life, and every once and awhile, there is something that emerges from the projects on which I work that allows me to share with others why Nunatsiavut is such a beautiful and unique place in Canada.

This past year, one of my colleagues and good friend, Joanna Petrasek MacDonald from McGill University, began to work in Rigolet as part of the Inuit Mental Health and Adaptation to Climate Change (IMHACC) and Inuit Knowledge for Adapting to the Health Effects of Climate Change (IK-ADAPT) projects examining youth resilience in response to a changing climate and environment and the subsequent impacts on health and wellbeing.

This May, Joanna had the opportunity to travel to Rigolet to work with students and staff from the Northern Lights Academy school, the Rigolet Inuit Community Government, Marilyn Baikie and Inez Shiwak from the ‘My Word’: Storytelling and Digital Media Lab, and Jordan and Curtis Konek from Konek Productions in Arviat, Nunavut.

As part of this project, youth in Rigolet had the opportunity to engage in a two-week participatory video project to create a film about growing up and living in Rigolet. This  workshop provided the students with training in video design, camera techniques, interviewing skills, and editing.

The workshop concluded with the completion of a wonderful, moving, informative, and humorous 17 minute film, edited entirely by the students and a community screening.

As Joanna Petrasek MacDonald explained,

The film is about the lives of the youth in Rigolet and full of footage of all kinds of awesome activities that they do in and around town. Not one seat at the screening was  empty, there were lots of laughs and smiles, and the young filmmakers were glowing with pride. Since the screening we have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from the students, parents, teachers, and community members.

Check out this amazing video, and enter into a world of growing up in one of Canada’s remote Inuit communities, on the beautiful Northern Labrador Coast.

For a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the making of the Life in Rigolet participatory video, check out Joanna’s video:

This project would not be possible without the amazing support and guidance of the following organizations, groups, and individuals:

  • Charlotte Wolfrey (AngajukKâk) and the Rigolet Inuit Community Government
  • Tom Mugford (Principal) and the staff and students of Northern Lights Academy
  • ‘My Word’: Storytelling and Digital Media Lab
  • Nunatsiavut Department of Health and Social Development
  • Climate Change Adaptation Research Group at McGill University
  • Inuit Mental Health and Adaptation to Climate Change (IMHACC) project
  • Inuit Knowledge for Adapting to the  Health Effects of Climate Change (IK-ADAPT) project
  • Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change (IHACC) project
  • First Air and Air Labrador

Finally, a very special thank you to Jordan and Curtis Konek, from Konek Productions, for lending their video expertise and making this all possible!

Dialing for Change

This past semester, I had the honour and privilege of teaching 16 amazing first year students through a First Year Seminar course, Cool Heads for a Hot Planet: Canada and Climate Change at the University of Guelph. We spent the semester studying climate change from an interdiscplinary perspective, incorporating science, geography, social impacts, cultural implications, economic effects, and politics. We simulated the Conference of the Parties. We Skyped with my Inuit colleagues from Nunatsiavut, Labrador. We had guest speakers. And we had many, many discussions and debates.

After weeks of grappling with the complexities of a changing climate and environment, as a group, we felt we could no longer sit idly by and simply study. We wanted to do something. Something that would allow us to share our concerns and our fears about climate change, but also our hopes and beliefs in the creative potential of humanity to come together to mitigate, adapt, and move forward. From this desire for citizen action, and believing in the importance of creating dialogue, Robocall Steve for Climate Action was born. Wanting to approach to event with levity and positive energy, we decided to play off the recent ‘Robocall’ scandal (especially since Guelph is the epicentre of it all), and agreed that if politicians can robocall us, then we can robocall them right back: except this time about climate change.

On April 4th, students, staff, and community members gathered in the University of Guelph’s outdoor courtyard to Robocall Steve and share a simple, non-partisan message. With approximately 300 people making phone calls from the courtyard and inside the Robot-shaped call booth, the event was a great success. People were respectful. Joyous. Happy. And proud to be exercising their democratic rights and responsibilities of active citizenry.While politics may have played a role for some, the event itself was about transcending politics, about coming together as citizens who have to share this planet, and who are quickly realizing that many of our fellow human beings are already suffering the negative impacts of climate change.

As a social scientists who has spent the last four years collaboratively researching with Inuit colleagues about the impacts of climate change on health (particularly mental health), I have witnessed the ways in which Canadian Inuit in Canada are experiencing rapid disruptions in their ability to hunt, fish, trap, and travel to cabins: disruptions which affect culture, livelihoods, and health. I have become increasingly uneasy about the often-slow pace of research, and the time it can take for research to translate into policy. The changes are moving much faster, and we can’t seem to keep up. I have also become increasingly uneasy about Canada’s current standing on climate change issues domestically and on a world stage. And have continually felt that we all need to do more. Say more. Act more.

As an instructor, I have always believed in the importance of transcending classroom boundaries, of moving curriculum beyond the walls of the University, of uniting academic learning and knowledge with citizen action. And I saw the proof of this need on April 4th. My students were simply awe-inspiring. Passionate. Motivated. Active. Engaged. Educated. Knowledgeable. And contagious! And throughout it all, never angry, never rude, never disrespectful. Peaceful. Joyous. And this translated to the crowd. Callers said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘I really appreciate you taking my call’. People were joining together in friendship and community under one goal: to remind politicians that as Canadians — that as humans on this planet — we need something to be done. There is no Planet B.

We need more of this. We need more events and dialogue and phone calls and gatherings and citizen engagement. We need more courses that inspire students to move beyond the classroom wall. We need more students like Afnan Bagader, Vanita Buchoon, Alexandra Buffone, Morgan Dobroshinsky, Emma Genest, Michelle Grover, Jocelyn Keeson, Sukhchan Lail, Kayley Langdon, Neda Mirjabari, Joanna Rees, Shannon Regan, Tyler White, Amanda Wilkins, Hilary Worm, and Melissa Zigler.

Keep the momentum going. Organize your own events. Make your own phone calls. Keep calling with the same message. Share it. Do it for us!

Now it’s your turn…!

Events like this wouldn’t happen without the support of great people. We have been blessed and privileged to work with Abid Virani throughout this entire process, and to have Abid employ his talents as a filmmaker and director for our events. Abid was assisted by Siomon Willox, a grade 11 student at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute, and co-op student for Abid’s charity, I Have Hope. We also received great advice and guidance from Geoff Loughton, Gracen Johnson, and Yvonne Su, the students behind Guelph’s successful Vote Mob movement, and in particular, we thank Geoff for the simple yet elegant suggestion of putting ‘robo’ in front of ‘call’.

Joanna MacDonald #2 in Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25

Congratulations to my friend and colleague, Joanna MacDonald, for ranking 2nd in Starfish’s Top 25 Environmentalists under 25 in Canada!

As I say in the article,

Joanna MacDonald is an environmental leader, an educator, and a motivator. She is tireless in her dedication to environmental issues and inspiring in her passion.

Congratulations to Joanna! To read the full article, click here.

TheStar Another student barred from Conservative Party rally

Well, Harper’s at it again. And this time, it concerns ‘flagging’ my friend and research colleague, Joanna MacDonald, and denying her access to attend a Conservative rally in Guelph, Ontario on Monday. Apparently, Joanna may have been flagged for her environmental leadership on campus, and possibly for standing as a Canada Youth Delegate at the UN Climate Change conferences in 2010 and 2009. Check out Joanna’s story on the front page of the Toronto Star.

TheStar Another student barred from Conservative Party rally.