I’m involved in the following ongoing research projects:
Co-developing Innovative Approaches with Indigenous Partners to Foster Coastal Resilience, Food Security, and Sustainable Marine Harvests
This two-year project aims to co-develop integrated scientific and traditional knowledge regarding current and future human health resilience and potential impacts from climate change. The purpose of this project is to leverage existing dietary information from Qikiqtarjuaq (3 previous studies including the Inuit Health Survey 2007-08) and ocean observation data to: (1) forecast future changes in seafood accessibility and availability, Inuit nutrition, food security, and health; and (2) work with Inuit partners to co-construct evidence-based adaptation strategies to promote food security and sustainable marine harvests in the context of Arctic environmental changes and proactively respond to marine risks.
Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Marine Environment Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) Network
Community Engagement for Health Solutions in Low-resource Settings in the Philippines
This multi-year project is a collaboration between the University of Waterloo, the University of Guelph, and International Care Ministries (ICM), an NGO based in the Philippines. Several sub-projects aim to tackle diverse health challenges, including: (1) Social determinants of tuberculosis infection and care; (2) Assessing political, economic, and socio-cultural dimensions of food security; and (3) Integrating participatory approaches into randomized controlled trials conducted by ICM.
Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
Social, cultural, and demographic factors affecting access to and consumption of traditional country foods in Nunavik (Northern Quebec, Canada)
The harvest and consumption of traditional foods (locally called ‘country foods’) is a cornerstone of Inuit culture, sovereignty, food security, and nutrition. For Inuit communities in Nunavik, northern Quebec, country foods such as marine fish and mammals (e.g. Arctic char, seal, and beluga), caribou, birds (e.g. goose), and berries are vital sources of calories, protein, essential fatty acids, as well as lesser-known micronutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B-6, iron, selenium (Se). However, commonly-consumed fish and marine mammals are also exceptionally high in a wide range of environmental contaminants, including methylmercury (MeHg). Exposure to such contaminants has wide-ranging health implications for the Inuit populations, including pre-natal complications, neurological deficits, nervous system abnormalities, and possibly a higher risk of cardiometabolic disorders. We are currently working in coordination with Nunavimmiut communities and partners to collect wildlife samples for nutrient and toxicant analysis, as well as conduct interviews and KT workshops with community members to determine food consumption patterns linkages between cultural/gender norms, food security, country food consumption, and subsequent health impacts. This project is embedded within the processes of the nutrition transition and climate change, with a goal of improving health, nutrition, and climate change adaptation outcomes for Inuit communities in Nunavik.
Funding: Northern Contaminants Program, Health Canada, and Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Exposure to food chain contaminants in Nunavik: biomonitoring in adult and youth cohorts of the Qanuilirpitaa survey
Inuit are exposed to a wide range of environmental contaminants through their diet which comprises significant amounts of fish and sea mammals. During the past 25 years, our team has monitored the exposure of Nunavimmiut to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and metals, starting with the Santé Québec Inuit Health Survey in 1992, which was followed by the Qanuippitaa? 2004 Health Survey and more recently by the Qanuilirpitaa? 2017 Health Survey. From 1992 to 2004, for most legacy POPs, a significant decrease trend was confirmed in environmental components, and wildlife and circumpolar Inuit exposure data. Despite a decreasing trend mostly due to reduced consumption of country foods, mercury (Hg) and lead (Pb) exposures remain topical issues, particularly among childbearing and pregnant women in Nunavik. In addition, each year, new chemicals are introduced in the market. These “New POPs and Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs)” now reach the Arctic food chain and very little is known about their concentrations and temporal and regional trends in Inuit. This project aims at providing current data on exposure to food-chain contaminants and key nutrients in a representative sample of the Inuit population of Nunavik within the framework of the Qanuilirpitaa Nunavik Inuit Health Survey, to which 1327 Nunavimmiut participated in 2017. This project will allow Canada to maintain its role at the forefront of international biomonitoring efforts on long-range environmental contaminants exposure among circumpolar populations and contribute to understanding the risks and benefits of country foods consumption in the Arctic.
Funding: Northern Contaminants Program
Climate change and Indigenous food systems, food security, and food safety
A changing climate will affect food through a range of effects on agriculture, livestock, water systems, and wildlife, which have implications for food security, foodborne disease, and malnutrition. Indigenous populations who rely on the environment for livelihoods are considered highly sensitive to these impacts. The Climate Change and Indigenous Food System, Food Security, & Food Safety (Climate Change IFS3) research program addresses a significant deficit in understanding the food-related health (agri-health) dimensions of climate change among Indigenous populations globally. The research program has created a multinational intersectoral team to characterize the vulnerability and resilience of Indigenous food systems to climate change to inform, enhance, and expand climate change adaptation interventions and adaptation planning. The program responds to needs identified by communities, public health units, Indigenous organizations, governments, and the United Nations through ongoing partnerships with Inuit (Canada), Batwa (Uganda), and Shawi (Peru) populations. Working within these regions, the program has 3 research pillars: 1) Community-driven environment and health surveillance, 2) Projecting climate change impacts on agri-health outcomes, and 3) Developing place-based adaptation pathways.
Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research