Understanding and Assessing Impacts
In 2019, the Government of the NWT completed their 2030 NWT Climate Change Strategic Framework, which included a 2019-2023 Action Plan. These documents discussed some of the impacts of climate change that residents were facing, including changing ice conditions, impacts on water quality and quantity, invasive species, and impacts to habitat and wildlife. The NWT embarked on this project to increase the knowledge and understanding of climate change on health and to fulfill the goals of the Action Plan and the goals of the DHSS. Considering Indigenous People make up a large population in NWT, it was especially important to integrate Indigenous perspectives and health equity considerations in climate change work. Furthermore, throughout the project, it was made clear that climate change impacts would have disproportionate impacts on populations at greater risk (e.g. Indigenous People, elderly, isolated people, and people from remote communities) and this made it necessary that these populations were prioritized for adaptation measures.
The Indigenous Health Department was contacted to request perspective and information, and their contribution was helpful in identifying the main climate concerns as the literature in this area was limited. Furthermore, data collection included demographic makeups to identify the percentage of Indigenous Populations in different communities, and looked at the social determinants of health, such as household incomes. As well, since there are many small communities in the NWT and it is a sparsely populated region, it was understood that climate impacts would not be affecting different communities in the same ways. Some of these communities had already received funding from other government agencies to conduct smaller climate change and health vulnerability assessments, which provided some information on climate change impacts at the community scale. Findings from these smaller projects were utilized within data collection for the project.