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A chair to investigate how changing ecosystems affect the health of Indigenous and coastal populations

Québec City, February 19, 2020—Université Laval today announced the launch of the Sentinel North Partnership Research Chair in Ecosystem Approaches to Health. The Chair's mission will be to promote and improve the well-being of Indigenous and coastal populations through a better understanding of the health impacts of environmental and ecosystem changes.

“Although some organic pollutants are on the decline, the presence of mercury in local foods in the North remains a topic of concern and new chemicals are introduced on the market every year with unknown health effects,” explains chairholder Mélanie Lemire.  “Climate change is also putting increasing pressure on marine ecosystems and food security, which is already precarious in several Indigenous and coastal communities.”

The Chair's objectives will include contributing to the biomonitoring of environmental contaminants in local foods and Indigenous populations, studying the effects of these contaminants on human health, and assessing the impact of climate and ecosystem changes on local food systems in terms of availability, access, quality, and sustainability.

“Another important Chair objective will be to translate the knowledge we have acquired into concrete action,” adds Dr. Lemire, who is both a professor at the Université Laval Faculty of Medicine and a researcher at the CHU de Québec–Université Laval Research Centre. “We'll do this at the local level, through initiatives carried out in close collaboration with the communities involved, and at the national and international levels to help bring about new policies and reduce contaminant emissions around the world.” 

“I wish Professor Lemire and her team great success. Their work within this Chair will touch on a number of important topics at our University, namely northern and environmental research, sustainable health, and social responsibility,” says Université Laval rector Sophie D'Amours.

This Chair was created as part of the Université Laval Sentinel North program thanks to the financial support of the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) Northern Contaminants Program, Indigenous Services Canada, Fonds en santé des populations Éric-Dewailly, Fonds de bourses en médicine Hector-Saint-Gelais, Air Inuit, and Sentinel North.

About Sentinel North
Funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, the Sentinel North program allows Université Laval to implement a transdisciplinary approach drawing on a convergence of expertise in northern science, optics/photonics, cardiometabolic health, and brain health to improve our understanding of the northern environment and its impact on human beings and their health.

Jean-François Huppé
Media Relations
Université Laval