Health is much more than the absence of disease. A number of factors have an impact on the health of individuals and communities, including income, economic development, housing, food security, environment, education and self-determination.
When environment is looked at through a health lens, we see that:
- Climate change, the quality of drinking water, mining and development, and environmental contaminants are having a disproportionately high impact on Inuit.
- Inuit have a very close connection to the land. That means Inuit health is linked to the health of the environment in which they live and the accessibility, quantity, and quality of land-based resources they rely on for food and shelter.
In 2010, Inuit Tuttarvingat has prepared a discussion paper on climate change, biodiversity and their impact on Inuit health, “Arctic Biodiversity and Inuit Health”.
Inuit continue to consume country foods such as marine mammals, caribou, and fish. Environmental contaminants, such as methyl mercury, are present in the Arctic food chain and pose a threat to the health of Inuit. However, country foods remain the most healthy food choice for Inuit. What is most disruptive to the well-being of Inuit is the psychological effect, or mental wellness impacts, of the characterization of traditional foods as dangerous, or wrong. Country foods are a major part of Inuit culture, and therefore part of the individual and social well-being.