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Research on Aboriginal health and well-being

Québec City, June 16, 2016— During Northern Health Forum 2016, a unique event that brought together specialists and representatives of Aboriginal people from Northern Québec around key issues in northern Aboriginal health research, Université Laval launched the Nasivvik Chair in Ecosystem Approaches to Northern Health. This Faculty of Medicine Chair was made possible through the financial support of the ArcticNet Network of Centres of Excellence and funding from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

This new Chair is well timed as it comes during a period of rapid transformation in northern ecosystems that is creating vulnerabilities among Aboriginal peoples. Every season, northern communities feed themselves with the food they collect from their surroundings. This food is known for its high quality and health benefits. However, contaminants from the south transported by air and ocean currents to the poles are accumulating in the aquatic food chain and contaminating certain animals that are staples in Aboriginal diets. In addition, natural resource development and climate change are exerting increasing pressure on northern environments and the health of residents.

The goal of the Chair is to develop research projects in collaboration with the Aboriginal peoples to foster understanding of the complex effects of environmental change on health. «Our work will help us take preventive action and promote northern ecosystems as sources of life, health, and well-being for northern residents. Our mission is to go from research on the health of Inuit people to research with Inuit people, and finally to research by Inuit people,» explained the new chair, Mélanie Lemire, an assistant professor with the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at Université Laval and a researcher in population health and optimal health practices at the CHU de Québec–Université Laval Research Centre.

«This research chair is part of ArcticNet's strategic plan and meets our objectives of developing northern Aboriginal health research and attracting talented young northern researchers to our universities,» said Martin Fortier, executive director of ArcticNet.

This new research focus will extend Université Laval's collaboration with northern populations, a partnership that the university has valued and promoted for the past 50 years. «The Nasivvik Research Chair is perfectly in line with Université Laval's vision of sustainable health and social responsibility. It will focus attention on Aboriginal health and well-being,» said Éric Bauce, executive and development vice-rector.

Chair collaborators include the Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, the Kativik Regional Government, and the Makivik Corporation's Nunavik Research Centre.

About Université Laval
Université Laval, located in the world heritage city of Québec, is the first French-language university in North America. It is one of Canada's top research universities, ranking 6th among the country's institutions of higher learning with a research budget of$325 million last year. Université Laval boasts more than 9,370 employees, including 3,685 professors, lecturers, and other teaching and research staff who share their know-how with more than 42,500 students, more than a quarter of whom are enrolled in graduate studies. Université Laval obtained STARS accreditation in 2014, ranking first in Canada and ninth worldwide for sustainable development. In 2015 it became Canada's first voluntarily carbon neutral university. The university currently has more than 277,000 alumni.

Andrée-Anne Stewart
Media Relations
Communications Department
Université Laval
Cell: 418-254-3141