The 2020 study ‘ “We’re people of the snow”: Weather, climate change, and Inuit mental Wellness’, conducted by Inuit and non-Inuit researchers from various academic institutions across Canada has explored the intersection of climate change and mental health in Nunatsiavut. This study builds from research conducted through the IMHACC, and analyzes semi-structured, in-depth interviews conducted with over 100 community members and local healthcare professionals. The interviews were Inuit-led and spanned five communities in the Nunatsiavut Land Claim Area. The organization of transcripts was facilitated by NVivo© software. Information from the interviews was then sorted and codified thematically through an iterative process involving many team members. Themes identified by this analysis broadly displayed that seasonal freeze-thaw cycles as well as climatic changes and unpredictable weather patterns are negatively affecting the mental health of those in the Nunatsiavut Land Claim Area. Other studies in the IMHACC such as ‘The land enriches the soul: On climatic and environmental change, affect, and emotional health and well-being in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, Canada’ echo this finding within the context of individual locations. The research also identifies concerns related to community resilience should extreme weather events intensify and become more frequent (as is projected). The study has helped to clarify weather’s role “in both fostering and interrupting connection to place” in the context of climate change.
The 2020 study entitled ‘“We’re people of the snow:” Weather, climate change, and Inuit mental wellness’ documents the effects recently experienced climate changes such as shorter winters and faster spring-thaw are having on Inuit mental wellness through a series of semi-structured, in-depth, Inuit-led interviews conducted by Inuit in each of the study communities and supported by the Department of Health and Social Development. The study is part of and draws from previous information gathered by the Inuit Mental Health and Adaptation to Climate Change (IMHACC) study – a multi-year case study (2013-2018) comprised of various articles. This particular study partnered with the communities of Nain, Hopedale, Postville, Makkovik, and Rigolet in the Nunatsiavut Land Claim Area which extends along much of the eastern coast of Labrador. The area is remote and so relies on seasonal ice roads and boat travel. Furthermore, personal identities as well as livelihoods in the area are often intimately bound to the land. Consequently, changes to the environment have been shown to have a notable effect on mental health. Researchers conclude with a series of recommendations which may work to support the communities of the Land Claim Area to access services, “rearticulate and reclaim place-based identities and ways of knowing”.Read the Full Story