Canadian Arctic Study Area


Inuit communities are amongst the most remote on earth and inhabit a region that has experienced one of the strongest climate change signals globally. Despite being in a high-income country, health-indicators are similar to middle and low income nations. The research team has chosen three research sites that capture the diversity of Inuit settlements, livelihoods, health outcomes, and biophysical environments : Inuvik, Iqluit, and Rigolet. The Arctic Regional Operations Team has long established contacts, experience, and ongoing projects in selected communities. All three communities were visited during project development and pilot research was carried out in Rigolet.





Population : ~ 7250

Access: 5hrs by air (from Montreal); by boat during open water season (unknown time); no access by road

Description: Iqaluit, the capital city of Nunavut, is located on southern Baffin Island at the head of Frobisher Bay. Inhabitants of the city, primarily of Inuit decent, are involved in a range of occupations, though traditional subsistence activities (e.g. hunting and fishing) remain highly valued for cultural and practical reasons. The successful pursuit of subsistence activities, however, is being complicated by biophysical alterations driven by climate change as well as cultural transformations related to the city’s increasing exposure to global processes. Food security and exposure to land-use hazards such as thin sea ice have been identified as topics of increasing concern.


Population: ~300

Access:  6.5 hours by boat ; 1-5 hours by plane

Description: Before the 18th century, the Nunatsiavut Inuit led nomadic lifestyles in the Hamilton Inlet. When European explorers and trades came, the community of Rigolet was established.  Since then, Nunatsiavut land was was claimed by the Labrador Inuit (ratified in 2005) and is self-governed by the Nunatsiavut Government.  Rigolet is one of five communities in the Nunatsiavut region. Hunting, fishing, and other country foods are harvested for subsistence and are important Inuit cultural practices. However, shifting weather patterns and unstable ice conditions challenges this culture and lifestyle.  Rigolet is the most southern Inuit community in the world and is a place where time answers only to the weather and the tides see the town website for more details.



Partner Organizations


ITK Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
NAHO National AboriginalHealth Organization
PHAC Public Health Agency of Canada
Health Canada First Nations and Inuit Health Branch
Labrador-Grenfell Regional Health Authority
Nunatsiavut Government Local district government
Rigolet Inuit Community Government Local town government
MyWord Digital Media and Storytelling Lab Local government operated lab
Government of Nunavut Provincial Government





  1. Harper, S.L., Edge, V.L., Ford, J., Thomas, M.K., IHACC Research Group, Rigolet Inuit Community Government, and McEwen, S.A. (2015). Lived experience of acute gastrointestinal illness in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut: “Just suffer through it”. Social Science & Medicine, 126: 86-98.
  2. Ford, J., Cunsolo-Willox, A., Chatwood, S., Furgal, C., Harper, S., Mauro, I., and Pearce, T. (2014). Adapting to the effects of climate change on Inuit health. American Journal of Public Health, 104(S3): e9-e17.
  3. Petrasek MacDonald, J,. Ford, J., Cunsolo-Willox, A., and Ross, N. (2013). A review of protective factors and causal mechanisms that enhance the mental health of Indigenous Circumpolar youth. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 72.
  4. Ford, J. (2012) Ford responds: Letter in response to Macpherson and Akpinar-Elci comment on Ford’s “Indigenous Health and Climate Change”. American Journal of Public Health, 103(1).
  5. Ford, J. (2012). Indigenous health and climate change. American Journal of Public Health, 102(7): 1260-1266.
  6. Ford J, and Pearce T (2012) Climate change vulnerability and adaptation research focusing on the Inuit subsistence sector in Canada: Directions for future research. The Canadian Geographer, 56(2): 275-287.
  7. Ford J, Bolton KC, Shirley J, Pearce T, Tremblay M, and Westlake M (2012) Research on the Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut: A Literature Review and Gap Analysis. Arctic, 65(3): 289-304.
  8. Ford J, Bolton KC, Shirley J, Pearce T, Tremblay M, and Westlake M (2012) Mapping human dimensions of climate change research in the Canadian Arctic. Ambio, 41(8): 808-822.



Reports and Resources