Sonja K. Ostertag


DOI bib
Characterizing the development and dissemination of dietary messaging in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Northwest Territories
Julia Gyapay, Sonja K. Ostertag, Sonia Wesche, Brian B. Laird, Kelly Skinner
Canadian Food Studies / La Revue canadienne des études sur l'alimentation, Volume 10, Issue 1

Public health communication about diet in Inuit communities must balance the benefits and risks associated with both country and store-bought food choices and processes to support Inuit well-being. An understanding of how dietary messages—public health communication addressing the health and safety of country and store-bought food—are developed and disseminated in the Arctic is currently lacking. As part of the Country Foods for Good Health study, this participatory research sought to characterize dietary messaging in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR), Northwest Territories (NWT), from the perspective of territorial, regional and local dietary message disseminators to further improve message communication in the region. We conducted an in-person interview (n=1) (February 2020), telephone interviews (n=13) (May-June 2020), and follow-up telephone interviews (n=5) (June 2021) with key informants about their involvement in developing and/or disseminating dietary messages about the health benefits and risks of country foods and/or store-bought foods in/for the ISR. Key informants interviewed included health professionals (n=5), government employees (n=6) and community nutrition or food program coordinators (n=3) located in Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk, Paulatuk and Yellowknife, NWT. We conducted a thematic analysis on the 19 interviews. Our findings indicate that publicly disseminated dietary messages in the ISR are developed at all scales and communicated through a variety of methods. Dietary messages focus predominantly on encouraging healthy store-bought food choices and conveying nutritional advice about store-bought and country foods. As federal and territorial messaging is seldom tailored to the ISR, representation of the Inuvialuit food system and consideration of local food realities is generally lacking. There is a need to evaluate dietary messages and improve collaborations among Inuvialuit country food knowledge holders, researchers, and public health dietary message disseminators at all scales to develop more locally tailored and culturally relevant messaging in the ISR. We recommend utilizing a participatory, collaborative, culture-centered approach to dietary message development and dissemination in northern Indigenous contexts.


DOI bib
Contributions and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples to the study of mercury in the Arctic
Magali Houde, Eva M. Krümmel, Tero Mustonen, Jeremy R. Brammer, Tanya M. Brown, John Chételat, Parnuna Egede Dahl, Runé Dietz, Marlene S. Evans, Mary Gamberg, Marie-Josée Gauthier, José Gérin-Lajoie, Aviaja Zenia Edna Lyberth Hauptmann, Joel P. Heath, Dominique Henri, Jane L. Kirk, Brian Laird, Mélanie Lemire, Ann Eileen Lennert, Robert J. Letcher, Sarah Lord, Lisa L. Loseto, Gwyneth A. MacMillan, Stefan Mikaelsson, E. A. Mutter, Todd M. O’Hara, Sonja K. Ostertag, Martin D. Robards, Vyacheslav Shadrin, Margery A. Smith, Raphaela Stimmelmayr, Enooyaq Sudlovenick, Heidi K. Swanson, Philippe J. Thomas, Virginia K. Walker, Alex Whiting
Science of The Total Environment, Volume 841

Arctic Indigenous Peoples are among the most exposed humans when it comes to foodborne mercury (Hg). In response, Hg monitoring and research have been on-going in the circumpolar Arctic since about 1991; this work has been mainly possible through the involvement of Arctic Indigenous Peoples. The present overview was initially conducted in the context of a broader assessment of Hg research organized by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme. This article provides examples of Indigenous Peoples' contributions to Hg monitoring and research in the Arctic, and discusses approaches that could be used, and improved upon, when carrying out future activities. Over 40 mercury projects conducted with/by Indigenous Peoples are identified for different circumpolar regions including the U.S., Canada, Greenland, Sweden, Finland, and Russia as well as instances where Indigenous Knowledge contributed to the understanding of Hg contamination in the Arctic. Perspectives and visions of future Hg research as well as recommendations are presented. The establishment of collaborative processes and partnership/co-production approaches with scientists and Indigenous Peoples, using good communication practices and transparency in research activities, are key to the success of research and monitoring activities in the Arctic. Sustainable funding for community-driven monitoring and research programs in Arctic countries would be beneficial and assist in developing more research/monitoring capacity and would promote a more holistic approach to understanding Hg in the Arctic. These activities should be well connected to circumpolar/international initiatives to ensure broader availability of the information and uptake in policy development.

DOI bib
Informing the Co-Development of Culture-Centered Dietary Messaging in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Northwest Territories
Julia Gyapay, Kanelsa Noksana, Sonja K. Ostertag, Sonia Wesche, Brian Laird, Kelly Skinner
Nutrients, Volume 14, Issue 9

Northern Indigenous communities require collaborative approaches to health communication about food that are grounded in Indigenous knowledges and cultures; however, preferences and best methods for this process remain understudied. This participatory study discusses how Inuvialuit (Inuit from the Western Arctic) knowledge and the perspectives of territorial, regional, and local dietary message stakeholders can inform the co-development of culture-centered dietary messaging to support healthy, safe, and culturally appropriate diets in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. A community researcher in Tuktoyaktuk conducted storytelling interviews with country food knowledge holders (n = 7) and community members (n = 3), and a talking circle with local public health dietary message disseminators (n = 2) in June-July 2021. The lead author conducted key informant telephone and videoconference interviews with territorial and regional dietary message disseminators (n = 5) in June 2021. Interviews were coded and analyzed thematically. Our findings indicate that participants at all levels support increased inclusion of cultural and community perspectives about food to develop regionally and locally tailored dietary messaging. While most dietary message stakeholders wish to be involved in co-development processes, some country food knowledge holders in Tuktoyaktuk expressed a desire to lead local communications about country foods. Informed by participants' experiences and needs, we provide recommendations for future community-led approaches to further (co-)develop and communicate effective, culturally meaningful dietary messaging that promotes Inuvialuit food sovereignty.