Inuit Women's Conceptualizations of, and Approaches to, Health in a Changing Climate

Jasiuk, Linnaea
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University of Guelph

Climate change has been identified as possibly the biggest human health threat of the 21st century and Inuit are believed to be one of the most at-risk populations. To support adaption, decision makers must first understand what health means to Inuit, what health concerns are relevant and important to Inuit, and what adaptation strategies are feasible and desirable. This research employs a community-based analysis to examine Inuit women’s conceptualizations of and approaches to health in adaptation to climate change in the Arctic, in a case study of Ulukhaktok, NT, Canada. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews, free-lists and line drawing (n=29). Findings indicate that Inuit women in Ulukhaktok retain a traditional conceptualization of health that is holistic in nature with attention to the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual parts of the self and which prioritizes relationships among family and the environment. As such, Inuit women are sensitive to the health effects of societal and environmental changes that effect food security, water security and barriers to spending time on the land. This research suggests that climate change health interventions rooted in Inuit women’s conceptualizations of and approaches to health and mainstreamed amid broader health interventions are most likely to have positive health outcomes for Inuit women.

Climate Change, Adaptation, Inuit, Women, Health, Public Health