Qanuikkat Siqinirmiut? Towards an understanding of southern Quebec Inuit health and wellbeing
It is well established that when compared to the population at large, people in Inuit Nunangat suffer disproportionately from a range of chronic and communicable diseases. Much of this burden can be accounted for within the social determinants of health approach in which access to the resources and conditions that support individual and community health is inadequate and unequal to the other regions of the country. While the sources and effects of northern health disparities have received attention of public and population health researchers and agencies since the 1950s, the same is not true for Inuit living in southern Canada. Recent Statistics Canada data show that the number of Inuit living in southern cities has grown substantially and that the proportion of the total Inuit population now living “out of region” has reached 27%. Between 2006 and 2011, the Inuit population increased by 18% while the urban Inuit population grew by 76.4%, an indication of a growing socio-demographic phenomenon. In the south, there is no clear picture of Inuit health at a population level, although there are certainly broad indications from within and outside the Inuit community that people face substantial challenges. The proposed project explores these complex dynamics for Inuit living in southern Quebec, where between 15% and 20% of Nunavik Inuit and a substantial number of people from Labrador and Nunavut currently reside. Our community-based action research project seeks to build a knowledge base that will support the development of Inuit-specific services in southern Quebec. A partnership with the Southern Quebec Inuit Association (SQIA), and supported by other key Inuit organizations, the proposed community-based and Inuit-controlled participatory study will provide the evidence needed to build services and programs to understand and address the specific health conditions and needs of the community. Our project is guided by a single question Qanuikkat Siqinirmiut? How are the people in the south? Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative survey methods developed through a wellestablished partnership of researchers and Inuit organizations, we will develop a rigorous description of the health and wellbeing of this population that draws from Inuit philosophy of health. Methods include interviews, focused ethnography, photovoice, digital storytelling and other techniques. These will feed into the development of a survey questionnaire that reflects and describes southern Inuit realities.