How does seasonality and weather affect perinatal health?

Congratulations to Sarah MacVicar on her recent publication that examines how seasonality and weather affect perinatal Indigenous health in southwestern Uganda! Click here to access the abstract. 

Citation: MacVicar, S., Berrang-Ford, L., Harper, S.L., Steele, V., Lwasa, S., Bambaiha, D.N., Twesigomwe, S., Asaasira, G., Ross, N. and IHACC Research Team, 2017. How seasonality and weather affect perinatal health: Comparing the experiences of Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers in Kanungu District, Uganda. Social Science & Medicine. 187: 39–48.

Abstract:  Maternal and newborn health disparities and the health impacts of climate change present grand challenges for global health equity, and there remain knowledge gaps in our understanding of how these challenges intersect. This study examines the pathways through which mothers are affected by seasonal and meteorological factors in sub-Saharan Africa in general, and Kanungu District (Uganda), in particular. We conducted a community-based study consisting of focus group discussions with mothers and interviews with health care workers in Kanungu District. Using a priori and a posterioricoding, we found a diversity of perspectives on the impacts of seasonal and weather exposures, with reporting of more food available in the rainy season. The rainy season was also identified as the period in which women performed physical labour for longer time periods, while work conditions in the dry season were reported to be more difficult due to heat. The causal pathways through which weather and seasonality may be affecting size at birth as reported by Kanungu mothers were consistent with those most frequently reported in the literature elsewhere, including maternal energy balance (nutritional intake and physical exertion output) and seasonal illness. While both Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers described similar pathways, however, the severity of these experiences differed. Non-Indigenous mothers frequently relied on livestock assets or opportunities for less taxing physical work than Indigenous women, who had fewer options when facing food shortages or transport costs. Findings point to specific entry points for intervention including increased nutritional support in dry season periods of food scarcity, increased diversification of wage labour opportunities, and increased access to contraception. Interventions should be particularly targeted towards Indigenous mothers as they face greater food insecurity, may have fewer sources of income, and face greater overall deprivation than non-Indigenous mothers.

Nia King wins both top undergraduate convocation awards!

Congratulations to Nia King for winning the top undergraduate convocation awards at the University of Guelph:

  • Winegard Medal: "The Winegard Medal is the University of Guelph's top convocation award to an undergraduate student. Named for former University of Guelph president Dr. William Winegard, the medal is awarded in recognition of both academic achievement and contributions to university and community life."
  • Governor General Medal: "Lord Dufferin, Canada’s third Governor General after Confederation, created these Academic Medals in 1873 to encourage academic excellence across the nation. Over the years, they have become the most prestigious award that students in Canadian schools can receive."

Citation: Governor General Medal, Read by Sherilee Harper

The University of Guelph awards two silver medals from the Governor General each year to the two graduating students with the highest cumulative average in any undergraduate degree program. Both 2017 recipients are graduates of the College of Biological Science.

Madame Chancellor, I have the honour of presenting to you one of the recipients of the Governor General’s Silver Medal, Nia King.

In her four years at the University, Nia has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement. She is graduating with a B.Sc. Honours degree in Bio-medical Science with a cumulative average of 97.5%. Nia maintained this high level of performance in each semester of her program, earning a grade of at least 97% in 27 of 36 courses, and 100% in five courses.

If those exceptional grades weren’t enough, Nia has been a very productive researcher in the Department of Population Medicine. She has conducted community-based research with Canadian Inuit, Kenyan farmers, and migrant workers in India to advance our understanding of complex public health issues. Nia has presented her work at national conferences, and remarkably is a co-author of four published articles, as well as two currently in review.

Nia has been recognized by the University community on several occasions for her academic achievements. She was awarded the A. Peepre Memorial and Lionel Bradley Pett Scholarships from the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, and a CBS Student Council Academic Achievement Award based on her sustained academic excellence. These awards were in addition to many other honours, including the College of Biological Science Dean’s scholarship on two occasions and the highly prestigious University of Guelph President’s Scholarship.

In addition to these many academic accomplishments, Nia has also been a very active contributor to the community and an outstanding provincial and national level athlete.

Madame Chancellor, I am sure you will agree that Nia King is an exemplary student and fully deserving of the Governor General’s Silver Medal.

Citation: Winegard Medal, Read by Jonathan Newman

The William Winegard Medal is the University of Guelph’s most prestigious undergraduate student convocation award and is named in honour of Dr. William C. Winegard, a former University of Guelph president.  This medal is awarded annually in recognition of both academic achievement and contributions to university and community life.

Madam Vice-Chancellor, I am honoured to present this year’s recipient of the William Winegard Medal, Nia King.

Described as a born leader and a natural scholar, Nia King is a top student in biomedical sciences, a dedicated researcher in public health and an outstanding athlete.

Nia’s academic achievements place her at the top of the 2016/17 graduating class. Further, through a series of research assistantships, she pursued her passion for public health and community engagement by studying Indigenous health and international public health. Nia contributed to the Federal Government’s climate change adaptation strategy for Northern Canada, and advanced our understanding of public health issues in rural India, physical health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, and education in Kenya.

In addition to Nia’s many academic accomplishments, she has been a very active member of the community. She has served as a health care volunteer, a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor, and coordinator for the TEDxGuelphU series. She was named among Guelph’s Top 40 Under 40, and was chosen as one of three North Americans to serve as an Impossible2Possible Global Youth Ambassador.

Nia also has pursued athletics at the highest level, including running the Boston Marathon, playing ringette for Team Ontario, and rowing for Team Canada. Using her athletics for social good, Nia ran the equivalent of five consecutive marathons across Death Valley for a global education program using adventure learning.

Nia embodies the values of the University of Guelph in her commitment to learning and pursuit of excellence in everything that she does. Her outstanding academic achievements and volunteer work both at the university and abroad, demonstrate that she is a very deserving recipient of this year’s William Winegard Medal.

Food insecurity by season in households with children in Iqaluit

Congratulations to Catherine Huet for her new publication in BMC Public Health!  Her article examines food security in household with children in Iqaluit.  Click here for free access to the open-access article!  


Huet, C., Ford, J., Berrang-Ford, L., Edge, V.L., Shirley, J., IHACC Research Team, King, N., Harper, S.L. (2017). Food insecurity and food consumption by season in households with children in an Arctic city: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 17:578


Background: High rates of food insecurity are documented among Inuit households in Canada; however, data on food insecurity prevalence and seasonality for Inuit households with children are lacking, especially in city centres. This project: (1) compared food consumption patterns for households with and without children, (2) compared the prevalence of food insecurity for households with and without children, (3) compared food consumption patterns and food insecurity prevalence between seasons, and (4) identified factors associated with food insecurity in households with children in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada.

Methods: Randomly selected households were surveyed in Iqaluit in September 2012 and May 2013. Household food security status was determined using an adapted United States Department of Agriculture Household Food Security Survey Module. Univariable logistic regressions were used to examine unconditional associations between food security status and demographics, socioeconomics, frequency of food consumption, and method of food preparation in households with children by season.

Results: Households with children (n = 431) and without children (n = 468) participated in the survey. Food insecurity was identified in 32.9% (95% CI: 28.5–37.4%) of households with children; this was significantly higher than in households without children (23.2%, 95% CI: 19.4–27.1%). The prevalence of household food insecurity did not significantly differ by season. Demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the person responsible for food preparation, including low formal education attainment (ORSept = 4.3, 95% CI: 2.3–8.0; ORMay = 3.2, 95% CI: 1.8–5.8), unemployment (ORSept = 1.1, 95% CI: 1.1–1.3; ORMay = 1.3, 95% CI: 1.1–1.5), and Inuit identity (ORSept = 8.9, 95% CI: 3.4–23.5; ORMay = 21.8, 95% CI: 6.6–72.4), were associated with increased odds of food insecurity in households with children. Fruit and vegetable consumption (ORSept = 0.4, 95% CI: 0.2–0.8; ORMay = 0.5, 95% CI: 0.2–0.9), as well as eating cooked (ORSept = 0.5, 95% CI: 0.3–1.0; ORMay = 0.5, 95% CI: 0.3–0.9) and raw (ORSept = 1.7, 95% CI: 0.9–3.0; ORMay = 1.8, 95% CI: 1.0–3.1) fish were associated with decreased odds of food insecurity among households with children, while eating frozen meat and/or fish (ORSept = 2.6, 95% CI: 1.4–5.0; ORMay = 2.0, 95% CI: 1.1–3.7) was associated with increased odds of food insecurity.

Conclusions:  Food insecurity is high among households with children in Iqaluit. Despite the partial subsistence livelihoods of many Inuit in the city, we found no seasonal differences in food security and food consumption for households with children. Interventions aiming to decrease food insecurity in these households should consider food consumption habits, and the reported demographic and socioeconomic determinants of food insecurity.

The Harper Lab welcomes Teddy to Guelph!

Written by Chloe Zivot, Undergraduate Research Assistant It’s with great pleasure that we welcome Teddy Kisembo to the Harper Lab as she completes a course in EcoHealth at the University of Guelph this summer. While she has only been here one month, her energy and knowledge have brightened the department since her arrival, and we look forward to having her here with us until July!

Teddy has a BA in Urban Planning from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, and is currently a Masters student at Makerere University, pursuing a degree in Land Use and Regional Development. Her MA research is centered around the effects that flooding has on the livelihoods and health of urban residents, specifically in regard to the impacts of relocation. Teddy explains that relocation can take many forms, whether it is permanent or seasonal relocation, or relocation on a weekly or nightly basis according to rain patterns. While flooding has serious health and safety impacts on the residents of informal settlements in Kampala, her research suggests that these may not be the primary force behind relocation, nor the primary source of concern for members of these communities. For many, the disruption of day to day social, cultural, and economic activities (which may heavily affect household income, education, and religious life) is considered a larger barrier to well-being than the flooding itself.

In regard to future plans, Teddy has expressed that she is passionate about staying in research. She believes that to do research is to “get into the minds of people, and see what knowledge can come out of that. It’s putting a voice to the people that can speak to policymakers and planners”. Teddy’s work is very interesting and critical in the face of climate change, and we look forward to seeing the direction in which both her current and future research it take her!

The EcoHealth course that Teddy is taking part in here in Guelph is taught by Dr. Harper and other EcoHealth researchers from across Canada. The course teaches innovative approaches to better understanding the complex factors which influence health. (More info is available at Teddy says she enjoys the multidisciplinary nature of the class and finds the content refreshing, stating that is has re-provoked her interest in land planning. She is enjoying her time in Guelph so far, despite the weather being far cooler than she is accustomed to at home in Uganda!

We are thrilled to have Teddy here in Guelph with us this summer; we look forward to getting to know her better and showing her around Guelph in the upcoming weeks!



Does Weather Matter for Foetal Growth in Uganda?

Congratulations to Sarah MacVicar for her new publication!  Sarah's paper examines associations between in utero meteorological exposures and foetal growth among Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers in rural Uganda. If you ever wondered how weather conditions impact foetal growth, check out this paper!  Click here to view the open-access paper. 

Paper citation:

MacVicar, S., Berrang-Ford, L., Harper, S.L., Huang, Y., Namanya, B.D. and Yang, S., 2017. Whether weather matters: Evidence of association between in utero meteorological exposures and foetal growth among Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers in rural Uganda. PloS one, 12(6), p.e0179010.


Pregnancy and birth outcomes have been found to be sensitive to meteorological variation, yet few studies explore this relationship in sub-Saharan Africa where infant mortality rates are the highest in the world. We address this research gap by examining the association between meteorological factors and birth weight in a rural population in southwestern Uganda. Our study included hospital birth records (n = 3197) from 2012 to 2015, for which we extracted meteorological exposure data for the three trimesters preceding each birth. We used linear regression, controlling for key covariates, to estimate the timing, strength, and direction of meteorological effects on birth weight. Our results indicated that precipitation during the third trimester had a positive association with birth weight, with more frequent days of precipitation associated with higher birth weight: we observed a 3.1g (95% CI: 1.0–5.3g) increase in birth weight per additional day of exposure to rainfall over 5mm. Increases in average daily temperature during the third trimester were also associated with birth weight, with an increase of 41.8g (95% CI: 0.6–82.9g) per additional degree Celsius. When the sample was stratified by season of birth, only infants born between June and November experienced a significant associated between meteorological exposures and birth weight. The association of meteorological variation with foetal growth seemed to differ by ethnicity; effect sizes of meteorological were greater among an Indigenous subset of the population, in particular for variation in temperature. Effects in all populations in this study are higher than estimates of the African continental average, highlighting the heterogeneity in the vulnerability of infant health to meteorological variation in different contexts. Our results indicate that while there is an association between meteorological variation and birth weight, the magnitude of these associations may vary across ethnic groups with differential socioeconomic resources, with implications for interventions to reduce these gradients and offset the health impacts predicted under climate change.

Photos of Sarah's Research:


Congratulations to Laura Jane for winning a Vanier Scholarship!

Sincerest congratulations to Laura Jane Weber for winning a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, one of Canada's most prestigious scholarships! Laura Jane is a PhD Candidate in Epidemiology and International Development Studies at the University of Guelph.  She is working with Northern partners to explore the role of place in Inuit maternal health and wellness.  Her advisory committee includes Drs. Harper, Dewey, Cunsolo, Healey, and Humphries.

Click here to read the news story.


Research Photos of Laura Jane

Lessons from the Labrador Research Forum: Truth, Respect and Reciprocity, Humility, & (Re)framing Research as (Re)conciliation

Written by Alexandra Sawatzky, PhD Candidate Between April 30 and May 3, Jacquie, Mel, and I were privileged to attend the first biennial Labrador Research Forum in the Upper Lake Melville Region of Labrador. This gathering involved the communities of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Sheshatshiu First Nation, and North West River, and engaged the three Indigenous nations of this region: the Innu, Nunatsiavut Inuit, as well as NunatuKavut Inuit. Over 150 delegates, including researchers, government representatives, community leaders and organizations, and the broader public came together to engage in dialogue and co-learning surrounding research in the North, by the North, for the North.

The Forum kicked off with an afternoon of cultural activities in Sheshatshiu First Nation, including beading, sewing, and snow shoe making. These activities, together with the opening ceremony at the beautiful Sheshatshui Ussiniun Youth Centre, instilled a strong sense of community among the attendees that set the tone for the rest of the Forum.

This Forum was structured differently to more conventional research gatherings, with presentation sessions containing a 5 minute research outline, followed by a 10-minute discussion with the audience. This led to engaging, dynamic sessions that encouraged deeper dialogue, as well as many opportunities for continued dialogue outside of the session during coffee breaks. As an audience member, I felt there were more opportunities to be an active participant within the session, and more space for deeper listening and engagement with the ideas and topics.

Grounding these ideas and topics were several intellectually and spiritually stimulating plenary panel discussions. The first plenary of the Forum was comprised of a panel of Indigenous leaders from across the region, who discussed their views on research as reconciliation and challenged the conventional understandings of the words “research” and “reconciliation.” These words carry great weight, and we have a responsibility to unpack and understand their connotations in order to use them effectively and with an awareness of their history. This first plenary, and all of the plenaries, presentations, and discussions that followed, emphasized the importance of our distinct contributions to research as reconciliation, which is premised on core values of truth, respect, and humility.


Starting from a place of truth, we can work towards reconciliation. President Todd Russell of the NunatuKavut Community Council emphasized this point in the first plenary panel, as he explained that pathways toward research as reconciliation must be developed in partnership with Indigenous peoples, partnerships wherein the research community understands its own truth, its own place.

Respect and reciprocity

Practicing respectful partnerships with people, plants, and animals can help move research forward in a good way – towards reconciliation. This idea was explored through a plenary on Caribou and people in Labrador, where the panelists described how hunters should position themselves as caretakers of the animals they choose to hunt, and engage in partnerships with these animals. These types of partnerships are also important in the research community, where there is a long history of researchers viewing people, plants, and animals merely as “subjects of study,” rather than respecting them as partners in research endeavors. Cultivating respectful partnerships requires researchers to position themselves as caretakers of data, as explained by Dr. Margaret Kovach in her keynote address titled: “Indigenous research, Indigenous methodologies, and the power of Indigenous knowledges in informing research practice.” Dr. Kovach went on to say that the word “data” in Latin means gift. The knowledge and stories shared by Indigenous peoples through research partnerships should be understood and accepted as gifts, which connects to the responsibility of all those involved in research to practice and uphold respectful, reciprocal partnerships.


The importance of cultural humility was also introduced in the “Research as Reconciliation” plenary, and was frequently revisited throughout the Forum. In research, cultural humility involves reflecting on where we are coming from as we enter into research partnerships, and where we hope to go together with that research. Moreover, cultural humility involves coming to the table with an open mind, as well as with the willingness to step back from the table every so often to listen and learn. We must be mindful of the questions we ask, and aware of the words and language we use to ask those questions. We must accept the value of the answers we receive and the lessons we learn from asking those questions – beyond accepting knowledge, we must value that knowledge. In reflecting on these ideas with Mel and Jacquie, Mel noted that she was particularly impacted by President Todd Russell (NunatuKavut Community Council) questioning the term “higher education,” as well as the ways in which we determine who is an “expert.” Jacquie and I felt similarly to Mel in that President Russell’s words reminded us that the research we do involves knowledge systems and worldviews that we have very little understanding and lived experiences of.

(Re)framing research as (re)conciliation

Participants were encouraged to critically reflect on how we frame “research as reconciliation” through unpacking the meaning of each of those terms. Unpacking these terms from a place of truth, respect, and humility is crucial in order to understand the role research has played, and can continue to play, in colonization of Indigenous peoples and lands. The plenaries, keynotes, presentations, and workshops at this Forum encouraged further explorations of the ways in which “research” transcends beyond academia to involve the communities, governments, and environments within which the research takes place. Furthermore, many panelists and presenters reiterated the fact that “reconciliation” needs to be understood as more than just a buzzword. Reconciliation involves action. Part of this action involves coming together as community, through opportunities like this Forum, to discuss and develop pathways toward reconciliation through research. Ultimately, moving towards and along these pathways requires a commitment to cultivating and sustaining relationships premised on truth, respect, and humility.

Congratulations to Carlee Wright for Successfully Defending her MSc thesis Research!

Carlee graduated with distinction from her BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of Guelph in 2014. She then started her MSc in Epidemiology in the Department of Population Medicine (OVC) and earned a 91% average in her coursework. Outside of her coursework, she was a Teaching Assistant (TA) for the graduate-level Epidemiology I course in 2015, a member of the EcoHealth Community of Interest (2014-present), and an active member of the journal club (2014-present). Carlee conducted community-led research on drinking water quality and safety, led by the community of Rigolet (see thesis abstract below). She presented this research at 3 national and 5 international conferences, including 8 poster and 7 oral presentations, many of which were co-presented with Inez Shiwak (an Inuit research associate from Rigolet). To support her research, Carlee won over $62,000 in scholarships and research grants; her research has taken her to Nunatsiavut, Alaska, Oxford, Montreal, and other locales. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Carlee over the past few years; she is a great thinker, writer, and analyst. Congratulations Carlee!

Carlee's Thesis Abstract: 

Canadian Inuit have often reported concerns about the quality of their municipal drinking water. This research took an EcoHealth approach to investigate drinking water perceptions and consumption patterns, as well as drinking water contamination and its potential associations with acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) in the Inuit community of Rigolet, Canada. Three census cross-sectional surveys (n=226-246) captured data on AGI, drinking water use, and water storage (2012-2014). Bacterial contamination of household drinking water was assessed alongside the 2014 survey. Concerns regarding taste, smell, and colour of tap water were associated with lower odds of consuming tap water. The use of transfer devices (e.g. small bowls or measuring cups) was associated with household water contamination. No water-related risk factors for AGI were identified. Results of this study are intended to inform safe water management practices, as well as contextually appropriate drinking water interventions, risk assessments, and public health messaging in the Arctic. Click here to access Carlee's Thesis.

Research Photos of Carlee

Congratulations to Manpreet Saini for successfully defending her MSc thesis research!

Written by Dr. Steven Roche Manpreet began her post-secondary education at McMaster University in 2009, where she majored in Biology. She received both the McMaster Entrance Scholarship for academic excellence and made the Dean’s Honour List in her final three years of her undergraduate degree, graduating with Honours in 2013.

Manpreet came to the Department of Population Medicine in Fall 2014 and has been amazing to work with. She added to her academic achievements right away and hasn’t looked back, receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science & Technology and the NCCPH Knowledge Translation Graduate Student Award. She completed her courses with an average of 91%, has participated in 3 national conferences, winning an award for top poster presentation, and traveled from coast to coast for research and conferences.

It has been a pleasure to watch Manpreet grow both personally and professionally.

Research Photos of Manpreet


Congratulations to Alex on her PhD Candidacy!

Congratulations to Alexandra Sawatzky for successfully completing her PhD qualifying exams! Alexandra finished her undergraduate degree in Arts & Science with a cumulative GPA of 89%, and directly entered into a PhD program in Public Health at the University of Guelph.  Her research interests include the wellbeing of Indigenous peoples in Canada, integrated environment and health surveillance, as well as physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social impacts of climatic and environmental change in Inuit communities.  Recognizing her academic aptitude, she has been awarded over $100,000 in scholarships and travel grants to support her PhD research.

Sharing her research with the scientific community include two peer-reviewed publications, as well as seven oral and five poster presentations at national and international conferences. In addition, she has authored 25 research-related reports, and writes an insightful and reflective blog, "Unlearn. Relearn. Repeat."

It has been a pleasure working with Alexandra over the past two years, and we are thrilled to continue working with Alexandra as she begins her PhD Candidacy!



Research Photos of Alexandra

Got Clams? Anna on CBC!

In case you missed it, here is a story from 2016 about the People, Animals, Water, and Sustenance (PAWS) Project.  In this article, MSc Candidate, Anna Manore, describes her data collection in Iqaluit, Nunavut.  With over 150 shares on social media, don't miss reading this article!


New Book Chapter about Reconciliation and Water Research


Castleden, H., Hart, C., Cunsolo, A., Harper, S.L. and Martin, D. (2017). Reconciliation and relationality in water research and management in Canada: Implementing Indigenous ontologies, epistemologies, and methodologies. In Water Policy and Governance in Canada (pp. 69-95). Springer International Publishing. Click here for access.


Water-related issues disproportionately affect Indigenous communities in Canada. Despite millions in investment, Western-trained scientists, engineers, and other researchers as well as the government agencies that have constitutionally-mandated fiduciary responsibilities to address such issues have been rather unsuccessful in solving them. This has been due, in large part, to an overreliance on methods of Western science and management, ignoring the vast place-based wisdom of Indigenous knowledge systems and relational practices regarding water found across the country. The underlying reasons for this partiality are not innocuous; entrenched colonial and racist policies, programs, and practices have persisted across time and space. In recent years, there is increasing recognition of the importance of applying Indigenous approaches to water challenges in Canada. But strategies for successful implementation are only beginning to emerge. In an attempt to respond to this knowledge gap, our research has sought to systematically identify and assess how both Indigenous and Western ontologies, epistemologies, and methodologies have been implemented in water research and management. In doing so, this chapter identifies some of the most promising practices in Canada. We share these with the goal of contributing to processes of reconciliation and responsibility towards each other as well as our roles as water stewards across the country.

Examining how drinking water security in Indigenous communities is covered by the media

New Publication!Congratulations to Steven Lam on his newly published review that examines the extent, range, and nature of newspaper coverage of drinking water security in Canadian Indigenous communities.  The article is available for free (open-access) here: 



Drinking water insecurity and related health outcomes often disproportionately impact Indigenous communities internationally. Understanding media coverage of these water-related issues can provide insight into the ways in which public perceptions are shaped, with potential implications for decision-making and action. This study aimed to examine the extent, range, and nature of newspaper coverage of drinking water security in Canadian Indigenous communities.


Using ProQuest database, we systematically searched for and screened newspaper articles published from 2000 to 2015 from Canadian newspapers: WindspeakerToronto StarThe Globe and Mail, and National Post. We conducted descriptive quantitative analysis and thematic qualitative analysis on relevant articles to characterize framing and trends in coverage.


A total of 1382 articles were returned in the search, of which 256 articles were identified as relevant. There was limited coverage of water challenges for Canadian Indigenous communities, especially for Métis (5%) and Inuit (3%) communities. Most stories focused on government responses to water-related issues, and less often covered preventative measures such as source water protection. Overall, Indigenous peoples were quoted the most often. Double-standards of water quality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, along with conflict and cooperation efforts between stakeholders were emphasized in many articles.


Limited media coverage could undermine public and stakeholder interest in addressing water-related issues faced by many Canadian Indigenous communities.

Reflecting on CPHA's Public Health 2016 Conference

In the lead up to the CPHA's 2017 Public Health Conference, here is a reflection from last year's conference.  The reflection is written by Manpreet Saini, who received the 2016 NCCPH Knowledge Translation Graduate Student Award at the conference. Written by Manpreet Saini, MSc Candidate

From June 13-16, 2016, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting a poster at the Public Health 2016 conference in Toronto, Ontario. It was an incredible conference that provided space to discuss social, cultural and historical impacts on public health and the health care system. Plenary sessions touched on crucial topics such as racism, health equity and violence as a public health issue. The conference brought together public health and community leaders, who facilitated and encouraged the necessary conversations to discuss the social determinants that are impacting health. I attended many oral sessions on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, and they were inspiring learning opportunities that made me take a step back to think and reflect on both the information I was given and the work that I hoped to accomplish. Some sessions got emotional but the strength of the Indigenous leaders and research teams was uplifting. During the oral sessions I learned a great deal from Indigenous leaders and the projects going on across Canada to reclaim their health and the health of their communities. In the midst of all this incredible knowledge sharing and discussion, I was also honoured to be awarded one of three NCCPH Knowledge Translation Graduate Student Awards. This conference was truly a wonderful learning experience.


Second month in Davis, California!

Written by Anna Manore, MSc Candidate Things have been progressing well in Davis!

In February, I presented mine and People, Animals, Water, and Sustenance (PAWS) project's work at the Northern California Parasitologists’ Spring Meeting at San Francisco State University (SFSU). The meeting was attended by faculty and students, mainly from SFSU, and who seemed to mainly work on Lyme disease. Some of the presentations brought back memories of a PopMed Seminar at the University of Guelph, where some preserved ticks were passed around…

Because the meeting was on the Saturday before Presidents’ Day, I spent the rest of the long weekend (along with a housemate of mine) exploring the city. Riding a cable car, climbing Telegraph Hill, and seeing sea lions on Pier 39 were some highlights of the visit.

I was lucky enough to return to the city the following weekend with a friend from home, and got to explore even more! Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge and a trip to Point Reyes National Seashore were the main activities, and they were both excellent.

In the lab at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), I’ve been working closely with lab technicians Beatriz and Brittany to make sure everything is ready to start testing the Nunavut clam samples for Cryptosporidium and Giardia. In fact, we tested our first batch of clam samples just last week. Things are progressing well, and there’s still lots of work to be done!

Ugandan Team Meeting: Climate Change and Indigenous Food Systems, Food Security, and Food Safety Project

Written by Jacqueline Middleton, PhD StudentOn February 20th, Ugandan team members of the larger “Climate Change and Indigenous Food Systems, Food Security, and Food Safety” project met at McGill University, in beautiful Montreal, Canada. Principal investigators (PIs), project managers, students, and research assistants (RAs) from the Ugandan research team united to discuss how best to understand and address Indigenous food security in the context of climate change in Uganda.

Over the 3 day workshop, goals and themes were shared, explained, then further carved out as Climate Change IFS3 plans its next steps. Not only were students and RAs invited to these preliminary discussions, we were given the empowering opportunity to share our knowledge, perspectives, and expectations. We were asked what we would like to see come out of Climate Change IFS3 over the next 5 years, not just as students and RAs, but importantly, as team members working with communities to realize meaningful research. On day 2, students and RAs broke off from the larger group to identify our priorities as a diverse network of researchers, and flesh out a presentation for the PIs the following morning. Over the day we discussed a broad range of needs and interests including, fostering cross site connections, equitable training and development opportunities for students and RAs involved in the project, and best practices to support our safety and wellbeing. We discussed how these ideas may be realized including: a mentorship program; skills training and workshops; fieldwork support (e.g. risk assessments, first aid training); and an intranet site to house a metadata repository, experiential blog posts, etc., in an aim to increase communication, transparency, and relationships across all universities and regions involved.

No trip to Montreal would be complete without indulging in its diverse cuisine. Following our day 2 discussions, the entire group reconvened at an authentic Haitian restaurant, Agrikol, whose beautiful décor, and spectacular food, served as a warm escape from the city. With food comas setting in, we headed to bed before our third, and final day together. Students and RAs opened the morning with a presentation, followed by uninterrupted discussion time with PIs and project managers. After tying up some loose ends, our official business was over, and we shared a final lunch, and afternoon activity together. It provided a valuable opportunity to cement the relationships developed over the workshop days with new supervisors, mentors and colleagues.

I am incredibly grateful to have set-off my PhD studies with the Climate Change IFS3 meeting. The opportunity to connect with peers and colleagues is one of my greatest resources as a graduate student. I feel grounded and empowered as I see where my own project and interests fall within Climate Change IFS3, as well as larger international goals for human health. Moreover, I am excited to be moving forward with such a brilliant team of individuals, as we strive for better research and reflexivity as a network.


People and Climate Change: Vulnerability, Adaptation, Social Justice

Sherilee Harper and Shuaib Lwasa were invited speakers at the People and Climate Change: Vulnerability, Adaptation, Social Justice Symposium, at Washington University in St Louis.  Here are some select photos courtesy of Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis.




Clams, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia: First Month in Davis, California

Written by Anna Manore, MSc Candidate After an early flight on Friday the 13th, I felt very lucky to arrive safe and sound in sunny Davis, California! I’m incredibly fortunate to be spending the next few months at UC Davis, working in Dr. Karen Shapiro’s lab to test clam samples from Nunavut for the enteric pathogens Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

My first weekend was spent running errands and settling in. One part of my routine that I could continue was a Saturday morning visit to the Farmer’s Market. Although the atmosphere at the Davis market is like the one in Guelph, the variety of produce is very different. The farmer’s market is right next door to the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame – which is well-placed in Davis. The whole city is very bike-friendly, and almost perfectly flat, making it easy to get around on two wheels. The only obstacle to biking is the rain. This winter in Davis has been very rainy, and it’s definitely taken some getting used to!

For the first few weeks in the lab, I’ve been learning a lot by shadowing Beatriz, the lab technician. She’s been so great and has been teach me the lab methods I’ll be using. I’ve also been working to compare different gel dyes so I can compare my results to ones that I get in Guelph. The work I’ve been doing is helping to lay the groundwork before I begin testing my clam samples, which will hopefully happen soon!

My first California adventure was a short weekend trip to Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Seeing otters and sea lions right from the beach was a highlight of my trip so far!