Aboriginal and Northern Community Health and the Extractive Industry in British Columbia, Canada

Current project approval processes associated with the extractive industry in British Columbia do not fully consider the impact such development can have on the health and well-being of community members. In addition, it has been well demonstrated that extractive industry projects hold significant public health concerns. The Nak’azdli and Tl’azt’en First Nations along with the municipality of Fort St. James have partnered with researchers from the Geography Department, University of Victoria and the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering, University of British Columbia who specialize in population health-impacts associated with the extractive industry, to address these issues.
Together, community members and the research team are completing a community health and sustainability base-line assessment and are monitoring community conditions through the opening phases of BC’s newest mine, the Mt. Milligan Mine. They are using this information to develop a sustainability planning framework specific to communities facing extractive industry development that brings focus to Aboriginal and Northern health values and the socio-cultural determinants of health. A major objective of the project aims to build local health research capacity, and to date, two local coordinators are employed by the project. The project has also facilitated the development of the Stuart Lake/Nak’al Bun Research Advisory Board, that functions to provide oversight to this project, and to ensure additional health and sustainability research occurring in the region brings positive benefits. This work is supported by a Community-based Health Research Grant from the Vancouver Foundation, along with an Aboriginal Health priority grant and Operating Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
This presentation builds upon almost a decade of research into mining and community health in British Columbia, Canada and will explore important Aboriginal and northern community health topics for industry, government and communities to consider.
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