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Warming up to the embodied context of First Nations child health: A critical intervention into and analysis of health and climate change research.



Available online at: This paper argues that the health and wellbeing of Indigenous children, their communities, and ultimately their nations, arises from connection with the land and from cultural strengths linked with this connectivity. We provide critical reflection on contemporary discussions about impacts that climate change will have on the social, ecological, cultural and historical determinants of health of Indigenous children in Canada. Our analysis highlights overlooked opportunities, perspectives and priorities that demand attention in order to prevent climate change from exacerbating the already unacceptable health inequities experienced by Aboriginal children across Canada.
International Public Health Journal ISSN: 1947-4989
Volume 2, Issue 4 Special Issue pp. 477-485 © 2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Margot W Parkes, MBChB, MAS, PhD1,2,
Sarah de Leeuw, BFA, MA, PhD2,3 and
Margo Greenwood, MA, PhD2,3,4
1Health Sciences Programs, University of Northern
British Columbia, 2Northern Medical Program,
University of Northern British Columbia, 3National
Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, University
of Northern British Columbia and 4First Nations Studies
Program, University of Northern British Columbia,
Correspondence: Margot Parkes MBChB, MAS, PhD,
Canada Research Chair in Health, Ecosystems and
Society, Assistant Professor, Health Sciences Program,
TLB Rm #10-3602, University of Northern British
Columbia, 3333 University Way, Prince George, BC V2N
4Z9 Canada. Tel: +1(250) 960-6813; Fax: +1(250) 960-
5744; E-mail:
This paper argues that the health and wellbeing of
Indigenous children, their communities, and ultimately their
nations, arises from connection with the land and from
cultural strengths linked with this connectivity. We provide
critical reflection on contemporary discussions about
impacts that climate change will have on the social,
ecological, cultural and historical determinants of health of
Indigenous children in Canada. Our analysis highlights
overlooked opportunities, perspectives and priorities that
demand attention in order to prevent climate change from
exacerbating the already unacceptable health inequities
experienced by Aboriginal children across Canada.
Keywords: Child health, climate change, aboriginal health,
ecosystems, equity, determinants of health,
Although emerging against an almost unprecedented
level of scientific attention [1,2], scholarship about
climate change and health is – like all scholarship – a
socially produced phenomenon. As such, there are
certain risks associated with the ways that it is
produced, oriented and circulated. Specifically, an
emphasis on certain locales and peoples, has an
associated risk of eclipsing certain other people and
places. This paper aims to analyze existing
scholarship, and propose interventions to redress these
tendencies in the context of health of First Nations
children in Canada. We begin with the premise that
the health and wellbeing of Indigenous children, their
communities, and ultimately their nations, arises from
connection with the land and from the strength of
culture that grows from this connectivity [3]. We
Margot W Parkes, Sarah de Leeuw and Margo Greenwood
suggest that in many discussions about climate
change, particularly those focused on worldwide and
global scale models and outcomes, what is often
overlooked are the lived, diminutive, embodied, and
intimate health realities of places and people
(particularly children) in rural and remote regions, or
in geographies beyond major urban centres.
In the Canadian context, analyses of climate
change that links the health and wellbeing of people
to their locale often places particular emphasis on
Inuit peoples and communities of the circumpolar
north [4-7]. This reflects a complex global-local
discussion with far-reaching impacts on cultural,
socio-economic and environmental determinants of
health in the circumpolar region, involving shifts in
temperature, ice and climatic conditions, loss of
permafrost, degradation of sensitive ecological
habitats and species and, associatively, loss of
traditional livelihoods and threats to community
practices, infrastructure, food and water security [5,8-
10]. Rather than re-visiting these well-documented
concerns, we locate, ground and emplace, discussions
about the implications of climate change for health
within geographies we suggest have not yet garnered
the much needed attention in the growing scholarship
about climate change and health.
Specifically, our paper provides a critical
intervention that highlights certain peoples (children)
and certain localities (specifically rural, First Nations’
reserve communities). Our intent is to overcome the
tendency for climate change research to prioritize
notions of vulnerability and health hazards in relation
to where the most dramatic impacts – and usually the
most people – are situated.
We off-set this risk by identifying three domains
of literature not yet been fruitfully deployed to
conceptualize the links between climate change and
health, and highlight convergence toward a more
nuanced understanding of the determinants of
aboriginal health in general, and First Nations
children in particular. We outline the methods used to
guide this critical intervention and highlight why a re-
scaling and relocating of discussions has the potential
to change how health and climate change are thought
about in Canada.
Context, background and approach
To (re)locate discussions about the impact of climate
change on the health and wellness of Aboriginal
children in Canada, we offer a brief, culturally and
geographically specific, scenario that positions our
analysis in the particular context of a First Nations
child in rural British Columbia.
Consider for a moment then, the not-so-
hypothetical case of Jada, an eleven year old girl
living with her uncle, and attending Grade 6 in the
small “Indian” Reserve community of Kitsum-Kalum,
just outside the town of Terrace in northwestern
British Columbia. Jada’s grandparents have always
reinforced the idea that her wellbeing is intrinsically
tied to her cultural heritage, a critical component of
which is preparing salmon each year when the salmon
run in the late summer and early fall. These salmon
runs are increasingly threatened due to an array of
proposed factors, ranging from warming oceanic
currents and river temperatures to transfer of diseases
from coastal fish-farms to wild salmon [11,12]. On
the other hand, and not in opposition to her
grandparents, Jada’s uncle wants to ensure Jada gets a
good education and lives in a house free of economic
stresses. As a consequence, he is pleased about the
growing jobs in forestry extraction availed to him
because of the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic that
has devastated millions of pine trees to the east of his
community, resulting from warmer winters that
prevent seasonable die-off of the beetle [13,14].
Jada’s uncle is also pleased about what he believes to
be longer, warmer spells in the summer because it
means increased productivity in his back-yard garden.
First, this scenario transpires in a region not often
specifically named in climate-change research.
Naming of the local, and outlining of tensions at the
local level, is imperative if the impact of climate
change is ever to be fully conceptualized. We argue
this scenario can only be meaningfully understood –
and thus fully conceptualized – when and if it is
theorized in relation to (i) the social determinants of
aboriginal health, (ii) the links between ecosystems,
equity and health, and (iii) a recognition of the
intersectionality of the determinants of Jada’s health.
When taken together, the literatures about these topics
allow for a “complexifying” [15] of the growing
discourse and public rhetoric about health and climate
Warming up to the embodied context of First Nations child health
change. In the context of Aboriginal children, this
“complexifying” encourages scholarship that makes
explicit local, place-based, and child-centred
The approach highlights voices and places that
are still relatively quiet on the increasingly noisy, and
highly political, stage of climate change and health.
We consider not just the interplay between climate
change and the social determinants of health
inequities, but their combined relationship with land,
water and natural resources. Landscape, after all,
manifests through the soil, water, air, food, language,
culture and living systems, as foundations for
Indigenous child health. Discussions about climate
change thus spur broader discussions about the social,
ecological, cultural and historical determinants of
Indigenous child health.
Our analysis is guided by the question - How is
Jada’s scenario left behind (overlooked) in
contemporary constructions and discussions about
climate and health? To respond to this question we
undertake a critical analysis and synthesis of three
emerging and complementary literatures relevant to
understanding the impacts of climate change on the
determinants of Jada’s health. Innovative components
of these literatures are contrasted with more dominant
and pervasive discourse of climate and health. Key
features of the analysis are summarized in table 1.
This method, a critical comparison and contrasting of
climate change literatures and discourses, has
implications for Jada, her community and the
complex social-ecological settings and scales that
determines her health and wellbeing, particularly as a
First Nations child on reserve, although by no means
limited just to these people and geographies. This
approach also begins to respond to an overlooked and
under-evaluated need for longer-term research that
focuses on the complex interplay between social
determinants of Aboriginal child health and
ecosystem change, including historical, cultural,
socio-political, economic and ecological dimensions
of the landscapes of Aboriginal children in Canada.
As a contribution toward this, we three authors
represent divergent and converging perspectives and
experiences. We are an Indigenous scholar and
director of Canada’s National Collaborating Centre
for Aboriginal Health [MG], a critical geographer in a
faculty of medicine [SdL], and a Canada Research
Chair in Health, Ecosystems and Society [MP]. Our
collaboration represents what Woollard has described
as the scholarship of integration - or “making
connections across disciplines and, through this
synthesis, advancing what we know”[16] and
contributes to a growing body of work aiming to
inform and improve the design of programs and
interventions to promote the health and wellbeing of
Aboriginal children in Canada and beyond
Table 1. New neighbours – linking climate change with innovations in determinants of health
Trend Examples Links with climate change literature
(i) Conceptualising
Aboriginal child health
holistically, in conjunction
with innovations in framing
determinants of Aboriginal
The Web of Being [18], holistic
concepts of aboriginal child health,
[3,19,51]; health inequalities and
Aboriginal People’s Health [17, 21];
First Nations Holistic Planning Model
[52]; Indigenous wholeness [53].
Some holistic models of Aboriginal
Health are cross-referenced in analyses
of health impacts of climate change for
Inuit and Circumpolar peoples, but
these links are poorly developed,
especially in relation to child health.
(ii) Connecting health,
ecosystems and equity
(pathways between
ecosystems and social
determinants of health)
Ecosystem Approaches to Health
(also referred to as ecohealth) [31-
35]; ecosystems as settings for health
and sustainability [36, 37, 46]; health,
environment and social equity [54].
Equity and ecosystemic impacts of
climate change tend to be viewed
separately. Integrated analyses of
climate impacts on social
determinants of health are rare.
(iii) New theories such as
intersectionality, highlight
the interdependence of
determinants of health.
The interaction and intersection of
social categories and implications for
lived social inequalities and
disparities [38-42], intersections of
race, class and gender [55,56].
The attention to intersections among
social variables is not yet well-linked
with ecosystems and the physical
environments, and tends to be distanced
from climate change.
Margot W Parkes, Sarah de Leeuw and Margo Greenwood
Synthesis: Climate change and
converging determinants of first
nations child health
Situating our analysis in Jada’s reality enables an
examination of climate change and First Nations child
health to commence with a child who is embedded in
a family and community, with a specific landscape
and time. Each facet of her brief story helps to
identify, and locate, how climate change may
influence her health and wellbeing, and reinforce the
relevance of new perspectives on climate change and
health in Canada.
For some, whose primary interest may be child
health, a starting point in considering Jada’s health
and wellbeing are health statistics. A recent report on
the state of Aboriginal children’s health in Canada
(20) synthesises and highlights a series of grim
prospects for Jada – on-reserve First Nations children
have immunization rates 20 per cent lower than the
general population, First Nations teenage fertility
rates are seven times higher than that of other
Canadian teenagers, rates of Tuberculosis are 8 to 10
times higher in First Nations communities in
comparison to non-Indigenous communities [19-21].
For others, whose starting point is climate change,
Jada’s context may seem less concerning than
populations considered more vulnerable or at higher
risk to the impacts of changing climate. Yet when
overlaid within three streams of literatures (see table
1), Jada’s story provides important and valuable
insights into understanding how disparities in
Aboriginal child health, and the far-reaching impacts
of climate change, may continue to influence Jada’s
health and lifescapes.
A web of influences determining First
Nations child health
Jada’s story provides an informative reference point
to locate what Loppie, Reading and Wien have
described as proximal, intermediate and distal
determinants of health [17] and to what has also been
depicted as an interrelated web of being [18]. While
similar to other conceptual models of social
determinants and aboriginal peoples’ health,
Greenwood’s relationship ‘web’ anchors the
determinants of health in Indigenous knowledge(s)
and personal experience. Jada and her family are
situated at the heart of the web - a contextual place
marked by specific land and family influences.
Tightly linked within this core are a range of
influences prominent in Jada’s family life, including
the availability of housing to her family (and its
suitability to the northern BC climate), the level of
education of Jada’s mother and other caregivers, and
her family’s social support network. The land, soil, air
and water of the reserve on which Jada lives are also
core features of Jada’s web of being - known most
intimately through her favourite streams for
swimming and salmon harvest. These micro-scale and
embodied localities need to be named and accounted
for when discussing climate change and health.
The close-up, individual and personal influences
on Jada’s life are also impacted by broader systems
such as education, health, justice and social services.
Thus, although Jada failed to progress to Grade 7
when her parents left the reserve in search of work in
the oil industry in Alberta, she was convinced by her
uncle to return to school and is progressing well. Jada
admits that a key factor influencing her to return was
her grandmother’s involvement in a school science
project linking fish, culture, health and language. This
project was inspired by a “People, Place, Potential”
newsletter [22] seen by Jada’s teacher at the local
health centre. Although less obvious to Jada, she and
her family are also influenced by much larger
historical, political, economic and social constructs.
Jada’s grandparents attended residential school, the
impacts of which have influenced Jada’s mother and
uncle, and in turn, her whole family experience. The
fact that Jada’s family reside on reserve is testimony
to the history of colonial occupation of the Americas;
reserves were imposed spatial constraints with
histories of ill-health, violence, and resilience [23-26].
These complex and multifaceted relationships
amongst the social determinants of health are depicted
in Greenwood’s web of being.
Jada’s story highlights the nuanced, interweaving
factors that feature in recent efforts to conceptualise
determinants of aboriginal child health holistically
(Table 1). These factors are also impacted by climate
change in a range of positive and negative ways.
Understanding Jada’s case, and using it as a starting
Warming up to the embodied context of First Nations child health
point to levy very located, specific, and embodied
questions about climate change and health,
encourages an orientation to a child as being
embedded in their family and community throughout
their life-course, and insists that researchers
understand that changes to the land and waterways on
small, often overlooked reserves, resonate ‘up’ to
regional logging operations, coastal fish dynamics and
oil extraction trends in other provinces or even
countries. This combined social and ecological
understanding is relevant to Aboriginal health models
and, when linked with new developments in
understanding the complex impacts of changing
climate, has the potential to reframe the way impacts
of climate change are theorized in scholarship.
Re-introducing estranged neighbours –
ecosystems, equity and health
Linking climate and health scholarship with place-
based land, water and food concerns, and impacts on
small, often unnamed and overlooked communities
and economies, is congruent with emerging attention
to ecosystem change and the social determinants of
health inequities. The combined pressures of global
climate change and resource degradation have spurred
recognition that the “adverse health effects from
human-induced environmental changes will be
distributed unequally. The poor, the geographically
vulnerable, the politically weak, and other
disadvantaged groups will be most affected” [27]. The
WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health
expanded on this concern with high level calls to
“bring the two agendas of health equity and climate
change together” [28]. This was followed by
recognition of both synergy and conflict between the
interrelated concerns of addressing to climate change
and health disparities [29].
Yet a focus on climate and health equity offers a
limited perspective on determinants of Aboriginal
child health, unless they are explicitly connected with
the ecosystems and landscapes considered to be
foundations of health and culture for Aboriginal
communities. These imperatives are directly
addressed in the report of the WHO Commission on
Social Determinants of Health:
“Indigenous People worldwide are in jeopardy of
irrevocable loss of land, language, culture, and
livelihood, without their consent or control – a
permanent loss differing from immigrant populations
where language and culture continue to be preserved
in a country of origin. Indigenous Peoples are unique
culturally, historically, ecologically, geographically,
and politically by virtue of their ancestors’ original
and long-standing nationhood and their use of and
occupancy of the land. Colonization has
deterritorialized and has imposed social, political, and
economic structures upon Indigenous Peoples without
their consultation, consent, or choice.” [28]
Ironically, the global discourse around climate
change and health inequity can become both
abstracted and divorced from these local ecological
and social relationships and realities. In order to bring
Jada’s story into focus within the highly political and
growing discourses about climate change, we argue
for explicit recognition that ecosystems and equity are
tightly coupled as determinants of health, and are
central to understanding how climate change will
exacerbate existing inequities in new and
unpredictable ways.
A dual focus on ecosystems and equity highlights
what Parkes et al describe as a double-dividend for
health [30]. Several research trajectories have
developed along these lines, including an orientation
to environmental justice and health equity, and the
emerging field of ecosystem approaches to health,
also known as ecohealth, [31-35] and described as
“participatory, systems-based approaches to
understanding and promoting heath and wellbeing in
the context of social and ecological interactions” [33].
Application of ecohealth approaches has
highlighted the potential of viewing social-ecological
systems as next generation ‘settings’ for health
promotion, especially in the context of watersheds
[36,37]. When considering the impacts of climate on
Jada’s determinants of health, such approaches
explicitly re-connect and embed the land on Jada’s
reserve within wider trends in natural resources
management throughout the watershed and landscapes
drained by the Skeena River - from British
Columbia’s coastal mountains to the Pacific Ocean.
This (re)focus highlights interrelated concerns
regarding changes to water flows, temperatures and
Margot W Parkes, Sarah de Leeuw and Margo Greenwood
quality in both the river and in the coastal marine
systems, and insists on attention to proposed spread of
diseases from coastal fish farms to migrating wild
salmon stock, with direct implications for the
complex social-ecological connections between the
salmon harvest and Jada’s family health and
wellbeing. These multiple, dynamic, converging and
overlapping issues cannot be extricated from each
other, but can be meaningfully conceptualised if
climate change is viewed as an overlay to other
intersecting determinants of health.
As we have written elsewhere, one way to effectively
conceptualize linkages between varied subjects –
particularly if those subjects exist on the margins of
social research or are divested of power in and by that
research – is to reconceptualise them through a lens of
intersectionality theory (see table 1). Broadly
speaking, intersectionality is a theory that wrestles
with, and attempts to explain, how socioculturally
constructed categories (predominantly but not
exclusively categories such as gender, ethnicity, and
sexual orientation) interact with and impact upon one
another to produce differentially lived social
inequalities amongst peoples [38-42]. Informed by
growing evidence of the relevance of intersectionality
theory to research concerning Indigenous people’s
health [15] and the myriad intersections between
climate change and social determinants of health, our
intention here is to highlight intersectionality as a
timely, if not overdue, contribution to the
understanding climate change and Aborginal child
The theory of intersectionality arose as a means
to examine, in an increasingly nuanced and complex
approach, the ways in which varied forms of
otherness interact to produce differently striated
realities of social marginalization and social exclusion
[40]. Intersectionality, then, can be broadly
understood as a theory that accounts for the
relationships between categories of otherness and the
ensuing marginalization resulting from those
relationships [43]. For the purposes of this critical
inquiry into the ways in which climate change
research produces and reproduces certain hierarchies
of understandings, we propose (and indeed have,
fundamentally employed) intersectionaliy theory as a
means of more fully theorizing and understanding the
multiple scales, places, and peoples whose health is
impacted – both positively and negatively – by
climate change. Intersectionality, then, can assist
researchers struggling with how to overcome
traditional dichotomies in climate change and health
research, including dichotomies that risk overlooking
Jada’s reality by emphasising binaries like
vulnerability/resilience; past/future; social/ecological;
mitigation/adaptation; people/place. We propose,
instead, that Jada’s reality is best understood when
situated at the intersections of these dichotomies,
from which climate change and health research might
learn valuable lessons.
Through this brief critical analysis of climate change
literature and discussions about the determinants of
health, we have identified an important difference
between what we describe as ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-
up’ approaches to understanding and responding to
the impacts of climate change on the health of
children. Top-down approaches to climate change and
child heath tend to start with the concerning threats of
global climate change and work down through various
spatial scales and pathways to examine diverse
impacts on the health of populations of concern and,
possibly, to focus on vulnerable populations,
including Aboriginal peoples and children. This
dominant approach to understanding the impacts of
climate change is reflected in a range of literatures in
Canada and beyond [4,44,45].
The language and literatures associated with
vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity have
begun to inform this top-down approach, grounding
the impacts of and responses to climate change in the
lived realities of local people [7,46-48] and
influencing how climate and health linkages are
represented in large scale national and international
reports [4,49]. A recent initiative by a Canadian
Indigenous Environmental network with an explicit
focus on “Climate Risks and Adaptive Capacity in
Aboriginal Communities South of 60 Degrees
Lattitude”, highlights that those outside of the health
Warming up to the embodied context of First Nations child health
sector are also recognising the importance of these
issues for aboriginal communities beyond Canada’s
circumpolar north [50].
A complementary, and we would argue overdue,
approach to understanding climate change and
aboriginal child health in Canada, are ‘bottom-up’
approaches where the starting point is a child
embedded within a specific social and ecological
context, who will experience climate change as one
factor among many complex determinants of their
health. We have presented three approaches that
inform and deepen our understanding of these
dynamics. While many of the issues of climate change
and health may have generic relevance across
Canada’s Aboriginal children (including Metis and
Inuit), a focus on Jada as a First Nations youth has
oriented our analysis to the lives, communities and
cultural identify unfolding within the specific,
historically imposed units of land defined as reserves.
Jada’s scenario set the stage to illustrate the value of
(re)grounding global unfoldings such as climate
change in both new (or as yet overlooked)
geographies, and in the context of health
There are important convergences and
divergences in contemporary understanding about the
impacts of climate change on the determinants of
aboriginal child health in Canada. We have sought to
highlight why a re-scaling and relocating of
discussions has the potential to influence how health
risks and adaptations linked to climate change are
thought about in Canada, and especially those who are
responsible for planning and designing interventions
focused on the health and wellbeing of First Nations
children. Such approaches enable an understanding of
climate change as a pervasive and exacerbating layer
of impact that may also serve to increase our sense of
what is imperative when addressing existing health
inequities for Aboriginal child health.
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... Of the included reviews, four were systematic reviews ( Table 2) [21][22][23][24], three were technical and commissioned reports (Table 3) [13,25,26] and 16 were narrative reviews, or opinion pieces with substantive literature reviews (Table 4) [27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42] All reviews and reports were published in international peer-reviewed journals with the exception of the Assembly of First Nations Report which was included as the challenges faced by indigenous children and their families are under-represented in the literature. Sixteen reviews The primary theme of interest in the scoping review was the association of climate change and child health inequalities reported in three specific dimensions; within country differences by social groups, between country differences (LMICs vs. HICs), and living in specific geographical locations. ...
... Of the included reviews, four were systematic reviews ( Table 2) [21][22][23][24], three were technical and commissioned reports (Table 3) [13,25,26] and 16 were narrative reviews, or opinion pieces with substantive literature reviews (Table 4) [27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42]. All reviews and reports were published in international peer-reviewed journals with the exception of the Assembly of First Nations Report which was included as the challenges faced by indigenous children and their families are under-represented in the literature. ...
... All reviews and reports were published in international peer-reviewed journals with the exception of the Assembly of First Nations Report which was included as the challenges faced by indigenous children and their families are under-represented in the literature. Sixteen reviews had a global focus incorporating LMICs and HICs [13,[23][24][25][27][28][29][30][31][32]34,35,37,39,40,42], four reviews had a specific country focus (US [21], Canada [26,33], Cambodia [41]) and three reviews focused on grouped nations of a specific world region (LMICs [22,24], Sub-Saharan Africa, North America). Reviews were published from 2007 to 2020 and all were published in English. ...
Full-text available
There is growing evidence on the observed and expected consequences of climate change on population health worldwide. There is limited understanding of its consequences for child health inequalities, between and within countries. To examine these consequences and categorize the state of knowledge in this area, we conducted a review of reviews indexed in five databases (Medline, Embase, Web of Science, PsycInfo, Sociological Abstracts). Reviews that reported the effect of climate change on child health inequalities between low- and high-income children, within or between countries (high- vs low–middle-income countries; HICs and LMICs), were included. Twenty-three reviews, published between 2007 and January 2021, were included for full-text analyses. Using thematic synthesis, we identified strong descriptive, but limited quantitative, evidence that climate change exacerbates child health inequalities. Explanatory mechanisms relating climate change to child health inequalities were proposed in some reviews; for example, children in LMICs are more susceptible to the consequences of climate change than children in HICs due to limited structural and economic resources. Geographic and intergenerational inequalities emerged as additional themes from the review. Further research with an equity focus should address the effects of climate change on adolescents/youth, mental health and inequalities within countries.
... In the absence of a comprehensive literature explicitly linking climate change to other cumulative impacts, this paper responds to calls for a more integrated understanding of the impacts of climate change and resource development on regional systems and communities (Bardsley and Sweeney 2010;Parkes, de Leeuw, and Greenwood 2010;Van Oosterzee et al. 2014). It also attempts to advance the integration of social and environmental considerations on coupled social and ecological systems, such as watersheds (Parkes, Morrison, et al. 2010;Bunch et al. 2011;Dub e et al. 2013;Brandes and O'Riordan 2014). ...
... The impacts of climate change on well-being reflect the other categories, and are particularly significant in the NRB. In Canada, Indigenous communities carry a disproportionate burden of impacts, due to the ways in which climate change adds to existing challenges related to service provisions, economic opportunities, and the close ties to social and environmental factors that influence community health and well-being (Ford et al. 2010;Parkes, de Leeuw, and Greenwood 2010;Parlee and Furgal 2012). For example, climate change greatly affects Indigenous peoples who rely on hunting and gathering as a primary source of food. ...
... The domain and indicators were likely prominent in this study due to Haida traditional knowledge and wisdom that recognizes the value of ecosystems to human well-being and the close relationships between the use of ecosystems and cultural practices. Previous research has shown that First Nations (predominant Aboriginal peoples of Canada) health and well-being includes land, water, culture and identity and the relationship between these elements (Greenwood and Leeuw 2007;Parkes et al. 2010). ...
Full-text available
Ecosystem-based management (EBM) encompasses both ecological integrity and human well-being, although it remains unclear how human well-being should be measured in an EBM context. Despite efforts to view EBM holistically, the human component is often overlooked or reduced to economic indicators that do not capture the full range of values held by the people affected by EBM policies. This study explored human well-being metrics of importance to local residents in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia (B.C.), Canada. The selection of this particular forest-dependent community was pragmatic since Haida Gwaii has recently participated in EBM planning and policy implementation that includes co-management between the Haida Nation and the Province of B.C. Using semistructured key informant interviews, we identified seven domains and 46 human well-being metrics important to measure on Haida Gwaii. Communities working to develop human well-being metrics in similar EBM contexts may find these concepts useful in their work.
... Ecohealth theoretical frameworks and methodological tools are ideally suited to the task of conducting community-based research as they reconnect ecosystems with social dynamics by paying attention to the principles of transdisciplinarity, participation, equity and sustainability, and to the challenges of learning and working across sectorial, disciplinary, gender and cultural boundaries (Webb et al. 2010). Ecohealth principles also share significant common ground with Aboriginal perspectives on wellness (FNHA 2013) and can be thought of as a knowledge framework that reconnects with age-old insights into the links between people, places and health (Parkes 2011;Parkes, De Leeuw & Greenwood, 2011). ...
Full-text available
Climate change is at the forefront of ideas about public policy, the economy and labour issues. However, the gendered dimensions of climate change and the public policy issues associated with it in wealthy nations are much less understood. Climate Change and Gender in Rich Countries covers a wide range of issues dealing with work and working life. The book demonstrates the gendered distinctions in both experiences of climate change and the ways that public policy deals with it. The book draws on case studies from the UK, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Spain and the US to address key issues such as: how gendered distinctions affect the most vulnerable; paid and unpaid work; and activism on climate change. It is argued that including gender as part of the analysis will lead to more equitable and stronger societies as solutions to climate change advance. This volume will be of great relevance to students, scholars, trade unionists and international organisations with an interest in climate change, gender, public policy and environmental studies.
... Yet, it is widely accepted that intensive resource extraction processes, including the proliferation of new extractive technologies currently extending across geographic scales, affect human health at individual community and regional levels (Schmidt 2011 ;OCMOH 2012 ;Benusic 2013 ). The lived realities of people and communities, not limited to, but particularly at or near sites of extraction, are profoundly shaped by economic, political, ecological, cultural, spiritual, and social changes resulting from extractive industry activity (Sauve 2007 ;Parkes et al. 2011 ). Yet, formalised CEA processes have not been developed to reliably and meaningfully integrate the experiential and tacit knowledge held by communities that is supported by the evidence they gather from their daily lives ( Brown et al. 2004 ;IPIECA 2005 ). ...
Full-text available
While previous chapters in this book explored the many challenges posed by cumulative impacts relative to the environment, communities, and human health and well-being, our goal is to develop a common framework for examining cumulative effects and impacts that is inclusive of those perspectives. Therefore, specific on-the-ground examples can be helpful to better understand the complexities, tensions, and interactions among cumulative impacts and foster more integrative approaches to addressing these. To that end, this Chapter includes eight vignettes that help to illustrate recurrent messages about the failure of current thinking and approaches, and why we must develop a more inclusive perspective and ultimately integrative process for addressing cumulative impacts. Topics covered include determining the necessary spatial and temporal scale for examining cumulative impacts, identifying important ecological and human values before development takes place, and making the integration among potential ecological, economic, community, recreational, and health considerations and consequences more explicit. Together, the vignettes highlight why current assessment approaches are ineffective and they build the argument for a needed dramatic shift in how we consider cumulative impacts.
... As Carlisle reports, the farmers in this book believe that disconnection from the land is a primary issue. This is a theme that is gaining increasing attention in a range of disciplines, including health care and Indigenous peoples' wellbeing (Parkes, de Leeuw & Greenwood, 2010;Richmond & Ross, 2009;Wilson, 2003) The farmers Carlisle describes in this book are working to share knowledge rather than compete, because they are striving to build a way of living, in addition to earning a living. Yet financial poverty is an undercurrent in this book. ...
... The artificial divides between social and environmental factors influencing health have been unhelpful -and even harmful -for those who view Aboriginal health and wellbeing as an embodiment of inter-relationships that include land, water, culture and identity (Greenwood & de Leeuw, 2009;Parkes, de Leeuw, & Greenwood, 2010). Although a review of determinants of Aboriginal health is beyond the scope of this paper, holistic models and integrated approaches to Aboriginal health have made valuable progress in overcoming these divides already (see, for example RCAP, 1996;Durie, 2003;Richmond, Elliott, Mathews, & Elliott, 2005;Assembly of First Nations, 2007;Panelli & Tipa, 2007;Williams and Mumtaz, 2007;Wakefield, 2008;Greenwood & Place, 2009;Loppie Reading & Wien, 2009, Richmond & Ross, 2009). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The health and well-being of Aboriginal* communities is closely linked to connection with the land, and from the strength of culture that grows from this connectivity (Greenwood & de Leeuw, 2009). This review commences with this premise, identifying potential common ground between ecohealth and holistic approaches to Aboriginal health and introducing a new generation of research and practice seeking to address longstanding divides between social and environmental views on health. Examples are provided of how such approaches are being applied to improve health and wellbeing in Aboriginal communities in Canada and Indigenous communities internationally. Revisiting Age-Old Connections Between People, Place and Health Current research, policy and practice focused on health and wellbeing tend to treat social and environmental concerns separately. On one hand are discussions of the causes and health consequences of social disparities – captured by the phrase " inequities are killing people " and exemplified by attention to the social determinants of health (CSDH, 2008). In this context, the physical environment and ecosystems tend to receive little attention, despite providing a non-negotiable basis for the food, water, livelihoods and living systems on which we depend (WHO, 1986; McMichael, 1993). Recent analyses of social determinants of health in Canada recognize fourteen important factors determining health, but barely make reference to the physical environment (Mikonnen and Rafael, 2010). On the other hand, an orientation to the physical environment tends to focus on contaminants and hazards in food, water and soil, and the need for protection against harmful exposures. This leads to a view of the natural world as a source of illness rather than a basis for life, and tends to overlook the social processes that drive environmental change and compound health impacts (Parkes, Panelli, & Weinstein, 2003). These tendencies highlight limitations of
... The burgeoning and complementary research in fields such as ecohealth and relationship-centred care, with their emphasis on interconnectedness and complexity, has an important place in discussions about the role of creative arts and humanities in medical and health theory, education, and practice. The potential benefits of such approaches have particular relevance to people living and working in Canada's northern geographies (see for example Parkes et al., 2010). ...
Full-text available
In this article we discuss the interconnectivity of Indigenous people, their cultures, and ways of life with the land and the idea that the health and well-being of Indigenous children, their communities, and ultimately their Nations arise from their connection with the land and from a strength of culture that grows from this connectivity. We argue further that these connections, leading to a holistic understanding of health, are intrinsically linked to education.
Full-text available
The premise of this article is that Aboriginal children in Canada cannot be extricated from Canada's colonial and colonizing history, nor can they be disentangled from the current socioeconomic conditions that dictate the everyday realities of Aboriginal people. The authors argue that Aboriginal early childhood is a site of politicized potential for transformative change that may benefit communities and Nations.
Full-text available
Despite the proposed ecological and systems-based perspectives of the settings-based approach to health promotion, most initiatives have tended to overlook the fundamental nature of ecosystems. This paper responds to this oversight by proposing an explicit re-integration of ecosystems within the healthy settings approach. We make this case by focusing on water as an integrating unit of analysis. Water, on which all life depends, is not only an integral consideration for the existing healthy settings (schools, hospitals, workplaces) but also highlights the ecosystem context of health and sustainability. A focus on catchments (also know as watersheds and river basins) exemplifies the scaled and upstream/downstream nature of ecosystems and draws into sharp focus the cross-sectoral and transdisciplinary context of the social and environmental determinants of health. We position this work in relation to the converging agendas of health promotion and ecosystem management at the local, regional and global scales--and draw on evidence from international initiatives as diverse as the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health, and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Using water as a vehicle for understanding the systemic context for human wellbeing, health promotion and disease prevention draws inevitable attention to key challenges of scale, intersectoral governance and the complementary themes of promoting resilience and preventing vulnerability. We conclude by highlighting the importance of building individual and institutional capacity for this kind of integration--equipping a new generation of researchers, practitioners and decision-makers to be conversant with the language of ecosystems, capable of systemic thought and focused on settings that can promote both health and sustainability.
Conference Paper
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The current latitudinal and elevational range of mountain pine beetle is not limited by available hosts. Instead, its potential to expand north and east has been restricted by climatic conditions unfavorable for brood development. We combined a model of the impact of climatic conditions on the establishment and persistence of mountain pine beetle populations with a spatially explicit, climate-driven simulation tool. Historic weather records were used to produce maps of the distribution of past climatically suitable habitats for mountain pine beetles in British Columbia. Overlays of annual mountain pine beetle occurrence on these maps were used to determine if the beetle has expanded its range in recent years due to changing climate. An examination of the distribution of climatically suitable habitats in 10- year increments derived from climate normals (1921-1950 to 1971-2000) clearly shows an increase in the range of benign habitats. Furthermore, an increase (at an increasing rate) in the number of infestations since 1970 in formerly climatically unsuitable habitats indicates that mountain pine beetle populations have expanded into these new areas. Given the rapid colonization by mountain pine beetles of former climatically unsuitable areas during the last several decades, continued warming in western North America associated with climate change will allow the beetle to further expand its range northward, eastward and toward higher elevations