Multi-scale environmental health implications of the Athabasca oil sands for Aboriginal communities in Alberta and Northwest Territories
Principal Investigator: McLachlan, Stephane M (2)
Licence Number: 15036
Organization: University of Manitoba
Licenced Year(s): 2012 2011
Issued: Feb 27, 2012
Project Team: Erin Kelly, PhD ((co-principle investigator), Northwest Territories Government), Paul Jones, PhD ((co-principle investigator), University of Sasketchewan)

Objective(s): To better understand and communicate the implications of industrial activity associated with the Athabasca tar sands and large scale hydro developments for environmental and human health as it affects the downstream Aboriginal communities.

Project Description: The overall goal of this project is to better understand and communicate the implications of industrial activity associated with the Athabasca tar sands and large scale hydro developments for environmental and human health as it affects the downstream Aboriginal communities.

The team completed Phase One of this project (collection of video and interview materials related to observed changes in fish health and related livelihoods [described in ARI application 1801]) in August 2011. Editing of this material was performed by Michael Tyas through Fall 2011 in collaboration with Drs Miller and McLachlan and was sent to community leaders in Fort Smith and Fort Resolution in December 2011 along with descriptions of the proposed research for the remainder of Winter 2012 and beyond.

The team has also begun creating a newsletter that will be sent to all the community and government partners in February 2012. A mockup of the newsletter is now being finalized that will be distributed in January 2012 for feedback. These newsletters will include introductions to key community members and research partners, summaries of the research results and photographs and maps of on-going research. Newsletters will contain this generalized material as well as community specific interviews, themes of concern and photographs of participants.

During Phase Two of this project, the team will build upon existing interviews. The team will interview under-represented community members, including woman Elders and youth as well as community leaders and governmental representatives. They will also get feedback on a final draft of the inter-community newsletter that will be distributed to all partnering communities in AB and NWT. Finally, the team will get final feedback on the video shorts for each community, and ideas for linking these to create one multi-community video documentary. Broad outreach will have been conducted within each community, and the research project will be promoted on the radio, through posters, as well as through the administrative offices. Word of mouth will also play a key role. Those that are interested in the research will self-identify and additional participants will be identified by existing participants through “snowball sampling” techniques.

The final (Summer 2012) will focus on sharing and getting feedback on outcomes of lab results, and exploring next steps in the research. Individual interviews will be conducted with some of those who had already participated in the groups interviews. Additional participants who are knowledgeable about changes in environmental and human health will be identified through “snowball sampling”.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from February 27, 2012 to July 30, 2012.