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Original Research - Circumpolar Special Issue: Human health at the ends of the earth

Climate change, wellbeing and resilience in the Weenusk First Nation at Peawanuck: the Moccasin Telegraph goes global

Submitted: 10 October 2009
Revised: 11 February 2010
Published: 18 June 2010

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Author(s) : Lemelin H, Matthews D, Mattina C, McIntyre N, Johnston M, Koster R, Weenusk First Nation at Peawanuck.

Citation: Lemelin H, Matthews D, Mattina C, McIntyre N, Johnston M, Koster R, Weenusk First Nation at Peawanuck.  Climate change, wellbeing and resilience in the Weenusk First Nation at Peawanuck: the Moccasin Telegraph goes global. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2010; 10: 1333. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=1333 (Accessed 17 October 2017)

ABSTRACT

The Cree of Northern Ontario, Canada, have proved resilient and adaptable to social and environmental changes. However, the rapidity of climate change impacts in the Hudson Bay Lowlands of the Canadian sub-Arctic is challenging this resiliency. A collaborative project conducted with the Weenusk First Nation at Peawanuck and researchers at Lakehead University used the concept of wellbeing to explore the impact of climate change on current subsistence activities, resource management, and conservation strategies, while considering the implications of globalization on climate change awareness. This article describes the analysis of 22 interviews conducted with members of the Weenusk First Nation at Peawanuck. Findings indicate that residents are concerned with a variety of changes in the environment and their ability to use the land. For example, they noted changes in travel routes on water and land, often attributing these to geomorphic changes in the coastal landscapes along Hudson Bay. They also noted the disappearance of particular insects and bird species, and variations in the distribution of particular fauna and flora. Possible impacts of these changes on the community's wellbeing and resiliency are examined. Another major theme that arose from the analysis was the impact of traditional modes of communication (eg traditional knowledge, radio, newspaper) and newer forms (eg satellite television and the internet) on Indigenous people's understanding of climate change. Given that few researchers have acknowledged or recognized the globalization of the moccasin telegraph (ie the traditional mode of communication between First Nations), a discussion of this phenomenon and its significance for understanding emerging knowledge systems in small, remote First Nation communities is central to this article.

Key words:  Canada, climate change, collaborative research, First Nations, globalization, Northern Canada, technology, wellbeing.

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