Arctic

Award Winning Poster: Stephanie Masina

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Continuing our Award Winning Poster Series, we celebrate Stephanie Masina’s poster prize from the Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses Scientific Symposium in May 2017. At this conference, Steph presented her work on enteric parasites in water conducted in close collaboration with Nunavut Research Institute.

Congratulations Steph!

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Award Winning Poster

CPHAZ 2017

Award Winning Poster: Carlee Wright

Next in our Award Winning Poster Series, is a poster presented by Carlee Wright at the 2015 ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting in Vancouver. Carlee won a poster prize for her work that was conducted in partnership with the community of Rigolet on drinking water and Inuit health.

Congratulations Carlee!

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Award Winning Poster

2015 ArcticNet ASM

Canada Research Chair in Climate Change and Health

Sherilee Harper was recently awarded a Canada Research Chair. Canada Research Chairs are awarded to “world-class scientists and scholars from diverse backgrounds who are working on new discoveries and innovations that help our environment, health, communities and economy thrive.” The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, recently announced the new Canada Research Chairs, which are funded by the Government of Canada.

As a Canada Research Chair in Climate Change and Health, Dr. Harper will conduct research focusing on “adaptation strategies to protect health in Inuit communities.”

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Canada Research Chair

Climate Change and Health

Metrics that Matter: Award Winning Poster by Alexandra Sawatzky

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In our series on award winning posters, we are pleased to share another poster created and presented by the talented Dr. Alex Sawatzky. In this poster, Alex presents research that she conducted in collaboration with Rigolet Inuit to examine Inuit-identified metrics for monitoring and responding to climate change in the Circumpolar North.

Alex presented this poster at the 2018 ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting, and won the poster prize - for the third year in a row!

Congratulations Alex!

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Award Winning Poster

2018 ArcticNet ASM

Award Winning Poster: David Borish

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This summer, we are profiling award winning posters presented at research conferences. At the 2016 ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting, David Borish won the poster presentation competition, for his work on using participatory film to examine the relationships between caribou and Inuit in Labrador.

Award Winning Poster

2016 ArcticNet ASM

Award Winning Poster: Alexandra Sawatzky's Literature Review

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As part of our series on award winning poster presentations, it is pleasure to share a poster presented by Alex. At the 2017 ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting, Dr. Alex Sawatzky presented the results of her literature review about integrated environment and health surveillance in the Circumpolar North. Her poster won a poster prize at the conference, and this work has been published since then (click here to access the free article).

Congratulations Alex!

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Award Winning Poster

2017 ArcticNet ASM

How can technology support community-led monitoring in a changing climate? Read our new article to find out!

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We are excited to share our recent publication on the need for community-led, integrated and innovative monitoring programmes when responding to the health impacts of climate change in the Circumpolar North.

Award Winning Poster: Kate Bishop-Williams

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As a part of our Award Winning Poster series, we are pleased to share Kate Bishop-Williams’ poster from 2014. Winning the poster prize at the 2014 ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting, Kate shared her research on the seasonal prevalence of acute gastrointestinal illness in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut. This work was conducted in partnership with the Rigolet Inuit Community Government.

Congratulations Kate!

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Award Winning Poster

2014 ArcticNet ASM

Award Winning Poster about Inuit Health by Alexandra Sawatzky

Contributing to our series on award winning poster presentations, this beautifully designed poster was presented by Dr. Alex Sawatzky at the 2016 Labrador Research Forum and the 2016 ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting. At both of these conferences, Alex won awards in the poster competition.

Through this poster, Alex presents work that she conducted in collaboration with Nunatsiavut Inuit to identify pathways for achieving and sustaining good wellbeing.

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Award Winning Poster

2016 Labrador Research Forum & 2016 ArcticNet ASM

New Publication! Using Whiteboard Videos for Health Promotion

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Citation

Saini, M., Roche, S., Papadopoulos, A., Markwick, N., Shiwak, I., Flowers, C., Wood, M., Edge, V., Ford, J., Rigolet Inuit Community Government, Nunatsiavut Government, IHACC Research Team, Wright, C., Harper, S. (2019). Promoting Inuit health through a participatory whiteboard video. Can J Public Health. doi: 10.17269/s41997-019-00189-1

Abstract

Setting: The Inuit community of Rigolet experiences greater rates of self-reported acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) compared to southern Canada.

Intervention: A whiteboard video tool was collaboratively developed by Rigolet youth, community members, the research team and key regional stakeholders to share public health recommendations for reducing the risk of AGI. The video debuted in Rigolet at a community event in August 2016 and was later provided online for community members and local and regional health departments. Interviews and focus group discussions were used to evaluate the ability of the video to communicate public health information to community members in Rigolet.

Outcomes: Community and government viewers reported that the whiteboard video was novel and engaging. Evaluation participants believed the video was suitable for promoting Inuit health because of the use of locally relevant visuals and narrative, which reflect Inuit art and storytelling traditions. Furthermore, participants indicated that the video co-development process was critical to ensuring community relevance of the video. Short-term outcome results suggest the video can reinforce health knowledge and potentially encourage behavioural change.

Implications: The results suggest this whiteboard video was an effective tool to share information and could increase intention to change behaviours to reduce the risk of AGI in Rigolet. While tools like the whiteboard video are gaining popularity, the participatory approach was used to develop the video, and its use in an Inuit context illustrates its innovation and novelty. This tool may be a useful health promotion tool among Indigenous communities in Canada.

Award Winning Poster: Manpreet Saini

As a part of our “Award Winning Poster” series, this post celebrates Manpreet's presentation success at the ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting in 2015. At this meeting, Manpreet won one of the poster prizes for her work in collaboration with the Rigolet Inuit Community Government and the Nunatsiavut Government that evaluated the collaborative development of a whiteboard video for health promotion.

Congratulations Manpreet!

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Award Winning Poster

ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting 2015

Award Winning Poster: Jacqueline Middleton

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Congratulations to Jacqueline Middleton for winning the poster prize at the Labrador Research Forum in Happy Valley - Goose Bay in May 2019!

In Jacquie’s poster, she explores the role of community-identified metrics and modifiers that matter in a changing climate.

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Award Winning Poster

Labrador Research Forum 2019

Reflections on the 2018 ACUNS Conference in Edmonton

Written by Isaac Bell, Undergraduate Thesis Student

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What’s an Arctic research conference without some snow? The Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS) Student Conference, held from November 1-3 at the University of Alberta, perfectly coincided with a generous, multi-day serving of snow, setting the tone for three days of engaging discussions on Northern research.

Isaac Presents his Research

Isaac Presents his Research

Personally, I had the exciting opportunity to present my first poster at an academic conference, entitled ‘Indigenous knowledge integration and community-based research practices among Northern researchers’. The poster session was a very enjoyable experience, and my project will definitely benefit from the conversations I had with researchers hailing from a wide variety of disciplines.

Dr. Martin Raillard, the Chief Scientist of Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR), delivered the opening day’s keynote lecture. He spoke passionately about Canada’s leadership position in Arctic research, and the capacity for POLAR to guide other nations towards Indigenous-identified research gaps in Arctic contexts. Among other things, he emphasized the importance of relationships; specifically, that meaningful relationships are what matter the most when it comes to research in the North.

On the topic of relationships, ACUNS 2018 was also an opportunity for several members of the Harper Lab, be they based out of Edmonton, Guelph or elsewhere, to reconnect in a fairly informal setting. David Borish, fresh off the plane from the North American Caribou Workshop in Ottawa, gave an incredible presentation on exploring Inuit-caribou relationships through community-led audio-visual methods. Spoiler alert: David won the award of top oral presentation among PhD students! Outside of the conference, there were several fun activities planned for the Harper Lab, including attending an Oilers game (they won 4-0!), splitting forces to compete in an escape room, and going out for a nice meal.

Back at the conference, Mr. Duane Ningaqsiq Smith, the Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, delivered a powerful keynote lecture wherein he referenced some personal experiences with research in the Inuvialuit region. He offered a simple but wise recommendation to do your research (about the region and its people) before you head North to do your ‘actual’ research. Aside from the keynote speakers, the program was packed with research presentations covering an immensely broad range of topics, from traditional Inuit sewing and beading practices, to changes in lichen biomass.

Despite the breadth of content covered in the conference’s three days, there were indeed some unifying themes. Notably, an emphasis on active, mutual learning with Northern community members and/or local representatives appeared to be emerging across essentially all domains of Northern research. Even projects that were seemingly unrelated to humans often took place on the territories of Indigenous communities and served to benefit from the Indigenous knowledge of that region, but more importantly, had a duty to ensure constant consent and approval from the local populations. Several presenters also mentioned a shift towards Indigenous-led research and ownership of results as a method of enhancing the local relevance of research practices. The concept of the Arctic being large in geography but small in ‘feel’ was also an underlying thread throughout the conference’s presentations and coffee break discussions. Many individuals have lived or worked in the same communities and thus knew lots of the same people!

Wrapping up the conference, the Guelph-born explorer extraordinaire James Raffan delivered the keynote lecture at Saturday night’s closing gala. He spoke of his latest adventure: Travelling around the Arctic Circle at 66.6 degrees latitude to engage with locals and learn how they’re being affected by climate change. Despite his own decision to leave the world of academia, James offered high praise for the passion and commitment to meaningful research on display at ACUNS 2018.

Overall, this conference was a wonderful opportunity to learn from the future generation of Arctic researchers, and allowed many members of the Harper Lab to reconnect at the University of Alberta!

New Publication: Wastewater treatment and enteric illness in the Arctic

The article is freely available for 50 days: Anyone clicking on this link before February 03, 2019 will be taken directly to the final version of this article: https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1YE0uB8ccghTq

Citation:

Daley, K., Jamieson, R., Rainham, D., Hansen, L. T., Harper, S. L. (2018). Screening-level microbial risk assessment of acute gastrointestinal illness attributable to wastewater treatment systems in Nunavut, Canada. Science of the Total Environment. 657(20): 1253-1264.

Abstract:

Most arctic communities use primary wastewater treatment systems that are capable of only low levels of pathogen removal. Effluent potentially containing fecally derived microorganisms is released into wetlands and marine waters that may simultaneously serve as recreation or food harvesting locations for local populations. The purpose of this study is to provide the first estimates of acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) attributable to wastewater treatment systems in Arctic Canada. A screening-level, point estimate quantitative microbial risk assessment model was developed to evaluate worst-case scenarios across an array of exposure pathways in five case study locations. A high annual AGI incidence rate of 5.0 cases per person is estimated in Pangnirtung, where a mechanical treatment plant discharges directly to marine waters, with all cases occurring during low tide conditions. The probability of AGI per person per single exposure during this period ranges between 1.0 × 10−1 (shore recreation) and 6.0 × 10−1 (shellfish consumption). A moderate incidence rate of 1.2 episodes of AGI per person is estimated in Naujaat, where a treatment system consisting of a pond and tundra wetland is used, with the majority of cases occurring during spring. The pathway with the highest individual probability of AGI per single exposure event is wetland travel at 6.0 × 10−1. All other risk probabilities per single exposure are <1.0 × 10−1. The AGI incidence rates estimated for the other three case study locations are <0.1. These findings suggest that wastewater treatment sites may be contributing to elevated rates of AGI in some arctic Canadian communities. Absolute risk values, however, should be weighed with caution based on the exploratory nature of this study design. These results can be used to inform future risk assessment and epidemiological research as well as support public health and sanitation decisions in the region.

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PhD position in participatory climate modeling, ethnoclimatology, and human health in the Arctic

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Looking for a great PhD research project with an interdisciplinary research team?  Apply today! Position is co-supervised by James Ford (Leeds University) and Sherilee Harper (University of Alberta). The position is primarily based in the UK.

Apply by 31 October 2018.

For more details:

http://www.see.leeds.ac.uk/admissions-and-study/research-degrees/sri/projects-with-guaranteed-funding/participatory-climate-modeling-ethnoclimatology-and-human-health-in-the-arctic/

David leads a National Geographic Student Expedition in Alaska

Written by David Borish, PhD Student Over the past two weeks I was incredibly fortunate to co-lead a National Geographic Student Expeditions (NGSE) trip in Alaska. NGSE offers photo and video-oriented programs for High School and Middle School students worldwide. Hired as the video-focused trip leader, my role was to provide guidance and support to six students from various parts of the US and China who were interested in producing some form of video for their final “on assignment” project.

I wore many hats during my time in Alaska. I planned day activities, organized events, facilitated a positive environment for all levels of learning, drove over 1,500kms, cooked, listened when students needed someone to talk to, dealt with both positive and negative group dynamics, and, most importantly, became a friend and mentor to some amazing, smart, and passionate youth.

Simply put, the trip was a blast. We hiked in Denali National Park, went on an Arctic wildlife safari, ice climbed, trekked on the Matanuska Glacier, kayaked in Kachemak Bay, went tide pooling, interacted with a National Geographic wildlife-tracking expert, and visited the Alaska Native Heritage Center, among other things.

Relating to my personal PhD research, I had an opportunity to see and photograph Alaskan caribou in Denali National Park. I also received some insight into the diverse connections between caribou and Alaskan Natives across the state, from Inupiat to Aleut. I hope to learn more about these connections in Alaska as they can inform my research moving forward.

Photo credits: David Borish

Computer Science Meets Public Health: 2018 CPHAZ Symposium

Written by Isaac Bell The Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses (CPHAZ) held their 2018 symposium in Rozanski Hall at the University of Guelph this past Friday (June 8th). The keynote speaker at the symposium was Dr. Craig Stephen, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan and executive director of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. Harper Lab collaborators Dr. Dan Gillis and MSc student Nic Durish, from the school of computer science, were also featured presenters.

Dr. Stephen’s talk, entitled ‘Can OneHealth Save the World?’,set the tone for the day’s agenda, with themes of systems-thinking and transdisciplinarity continuously emerging across a range of topics. He challenged us to reconsider our perceptions of health by emphasizing the interplay of humans and the so-called natural environment. For instance, should the health of a salmon population be defined as simply having enough fish for humans to kill at a steady rate? Salmon provide numerous ecosystem services - the effects of which undoubtedly benefit humans - so ascribing a definition of health based on short-term economic returns may prove harmful in the not-so-long term.

In the following session, Dr. Gillis spoke to the ‘Potential Health Aspects of the Digital Divide’. Focusing on Rigolet, an Inuit community in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, Gillis highlighted how dialup-level internet speeds and the absence of cellphone service can serve as a barrier to accessing information, collecting data, and addressing health concerns. Rigolet is representative of much of Inuit Nunangat in this respect, where the digital divide is yet another aspect in which primarily Indigenous communities face continued disparities when compared to national standards. In response, Gillis’ research is undertaking a two-step approach: the first step is to quantify the extent of the digital divide using strategically placed Raspberry Pi’s (essentially mini computers) to measure upload and download speeds. The second step is to connect Northern communities to the internet using a technology called RightMesh (www.rightmesh.io). An immediate benefit of this initiative would be, for example, the ability for residents to deposit cheques via their mobile phones, as opposed to paying a deposit fee at the local grocery store.

Nic Durish, a masters student with Dr. Gillis, presented a poster on ‘A Community-Led Approach to Contextualizing Gamification’. This work is centered around the eNuk program (www.enuk.eco), whose “mobile and web applications allow users to track and share changes in weather, climate, environment, wildlife, and plants, as well as the resulting cultural, physical, and mental health impacts”[1]. eNuk, while still in the development phase, is being piloted in Rigolet led by local researchers Inez Shiwak and Charlie Flowers, alongside Ashlee Cunsolo, Sherilee Harper, and Dan Gillis, and its usage will be facilitated by the RightMesh network. After the lunch break, Nic participated in the 2-minute student challenge, and delivered an excellent speech to win third place (and $100!) out of all the contestants. Congrats to Nic and Dr. Gillis, and thanks to the CPHAZ organizers for administering yet another successful symposium!

To view all of the conference presentations, click here.

References:

[1]Durish, N. et al. A Community-Led Approach to Contextualizing Gamification. Poster presented at: 3rd CPHAZ Symposium; 2018 Jun 8; Guelph, Ontario.