Coverage of Climate Change & Mental Health Research

Today, the Toronto Star published the second in a series of articles by Tyler Hamilton examining the many complex facets related to climate change and mental health, and featured our work in Nunatsiavut, Labrador.

Sometimes there are moments in life that change you, that alter you in ways that you can never really fully articulate… and that continue to teach you things years later. This research, and working with the Inuit communities in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, is one of the moments. Hearing the voices, experiences, and wisdom of the people with whom I work is humbling beyond belief. And dealing with, responding too, and hopefully mitigating the mental and emotional impacts of a rapidly changing climate and environment is something that continues, daily, to occupy my thoughts and drive my actions.


An excerpt:

Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, an assistant professor of indigenous studies at Cape Breton University, said the connection between mental health and climate change in Canada’s North is growing stronger and in “urgent” need of further investigation.

“There’s this dialogue that’s just waiting to leap out into the national and international consciousness,” she said. “In Canada, we have this active fishing culture, active farming culture, and large Arctic indigenous groups who are on the front lines of climate change, yet we have been really quiet on this topic.”

This is indeed a national dialogue that needs to happen in this country, and we are in a time in this country that I believe there is a willingness and and ability to listen and to act.

Thank you to Tyler Hamilton for his excellent reporting, and for his interest in this topic. His work is making sure this information and these voices get out, and for that, I am eternally grateful.


Climate Change & Inuit Mental Health

Today, an agreement is being tabled at COP21, calling on over 200 countries to sign on. As we continue these national and international dialogues, it is important to remember human impacts, including human suffering, distress, and psychological impacts.

I am pleased to share this new ebook feature through Adjacent Government that was just released to coincide with COP21. Click on the picture below to access the article.

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Grief & Climate Change

As the discussions continue at COP21, and the sense of cautious optimism continues to grow that world leaders will reach a strong and binding agreement, I am thrilled to see discussions also growing around the ways in which climatic and environmental changes can cause grief and mourning.

Thanks to David Suzuki for writing a great article, Healing Humanity’s Grief in the Face of Climate Change, and featuring our work from Nunatsiavut, Labrador.

The interplay of environmental degradation and geopolitics has had alarming repercussions. Over the past decade alone, millions of people have been displaced by war, famine, and drought. The world is shifting rapidly as a result of climate change and there’s little doubt we’ll see increasing humanitarian crises. We must face this new reality as a global community.

Climate change is one of the most destabilizing forces in human history. We must deal with carbon emissions but we must also deal with human suffering. In Canada, Inuit are feeling the impacts disproportionately. Ice appears much later in the season and melts earlier. Changing wildlife migration patterns disrupt community livelihoods, land-based activities, and cultural practices.

Cape Breton University Canada Research Chair Ashlee Cunsolo Willox is working with Inuit to understand their communities’ climate-related mental and emotional health impacts, documenting anxiety, despair, hopelessness, and depression, increased family stress, drug and alcohol use, and suicide attempts. People are grieving for a way of life that is changing with the landscape.

These are conversations worth having. These are emotions worth considering.

PhD Team Member, Jen Jones, Awarded Trudeau Scholarship

Huge congratulations to Jen Jones, PhD student at the University of Guelph, was awarded a prestigious Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarship to support her community-based and community-led work on the impacts of mining and resource development on community wellbeing in the North. This is a tremendous achievement, and a recognition of the quality of Jen’s work, her intellectual prowess, and her long-term relationships with Indigenous communities in the Yukon. I am thrilled to be working with and learning from Jen throughout her graduate process.

Click here to read the press release through the University of Guelph, and click here to visit the Trudeau website.

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TEDx Cape Breton Talks Released

The TEDx Cape Breton videos are now live! Happy to share a link to my talk on the impacts of climatic and environmental change on Inuit lives, livelihoods, and wellbeing in Nunatsiavut. Thanks to all who pulled this together!

The Research Behind Attutauniujuk Nunami/Lament for the Land

Over the past 18 months, I have had the pleasure of working with people throughout Nunatsiavut, Labrador to film, produce, and release a documentary film about climate change impacts on the land, culture, livelihoods, and wellbeing in the region. On September 21st, we released Attutauniujuk Nunami/Lament for the Land online, for free, to share the voices, experiences, and wisdom of the speakers with the world.

It’s not a flashy film. It’s gritty. It’s raw. And it’s full of voices and stories that still, no matter how many times I’ve watched and listened to it, elicit strong emotions and deep respect.

Now, I’m pleased to share a video that gives a glimpse into the research that led to this film, and provides some insight into why we should all be thinking more about the impacts of climate change on our minds and on our mental wellbeing.

Film Premiere: Lament for the Land

I am very pleased, excited, and honoured to announce the film premiere of our new documentary, Attutauniujuk Nunami/Lament for the Land at the International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences Eight Conference (ICASS VIII). We will be premiering the film on Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 from 3:30-5:00pm in Room 7-158 on the University of Northern British Columbia campus.

This film weaves together the voices and wisdom of Labrador Inuit with stunning visual scenery to tell a powerful story of change, loss, and hope in the context of rapid climate change in the North.

This session will include an overview of research conducted in Nunatsiavut, Labrador on the connections among climate change, loss of livelihoods, culture, and identity, and mental wellbeing, followed by the premiere of Attaukauniujuk Nunami/Lament for the Land. After the film, there will be a Q&A and discussion with the myself and Inuit in the film.

Click here to view the poster.

If you are at ICASS, come join us. If not, stay tuned for other screening dates!