Health Canada’s multi-year Program for Climate Change and Health Adaptation in Northern First Nation and Inuit Communities is unique among global adaptation programs in that it focuses on northern community adaptation and human health. To help address the challenges of climate change, the program stresses the need to involve communities in monitoring, researching, discussing, advocating and participating in the process of adaptation. Through community-based research projects, communities can develop culturally appropriate adaptation strategies or action plans and communication materials. Increased research capacity can in turn help decision-making at the community, regional, national and international levels with respect to human health and a changing environment.
Since the launch of the Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program in 2008, Health Canada has funded 36 community-based projects across Canada’s North that focus on relevant health issues caused by a changing climate. Through these efforts, communities have increased their knowledge and understandings of the health effects related to climate change and have started to develop local adaptation strategies. Examples include films and photo-voice products that engage youth and elders; community-based ice monitoring, surveillance and communication networks; and information products such as fact sheets on land, water and ice safety, drinking water and food security and safety, and traditional medicine.