Summer of Smoke


Ecology North is working with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, the hamlet of Kakisa, and representatives from the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) to study the physical and mental health impacts of 2014’s extreme forest fire season and the related costs to the healthcare system. Climate change is creating conditions in the North and across Canada that will make extreme forest fire seasons more common. Drier winters with less snowfall, low water levels, and warmer summers with more lightning storms all contribute to an elevated risk of forest fires during the summer months.

The health risks associated with climate change are many and varied, and the concurrent costs may be more than our system can handle. With the completion of this project we hope to show that climate change is impacting the health system and all of us. The summer of 2014 and the incredible smoke that blanketed the NWT, impacted people in many ways. Vulnerable populations had their physical health impacted by the smoke, but what was most captivating about the results of this project were the emotional and stress related affects throughout the population.

Ecology North and CAPE managed this mixed-method study researching the impacts on the health system, while at the same time asking ordinary NWT residents from four communities to make videos of their experiences in the Summer of 2014. The results show the wide impact that the forest fires had on the population.

The infographic below shows a narration of the Summer of Smoke against the air quality records of the season.20160120_timeline

Ecology North was also interested in how our air quality during the Summer of Smoke compared to the notoriously bad Air quality in Beijing, China. Check out the results:20160122_YK_vs_BJNG

Summer of Smoke – Interdisciplinary Mixed-Methods Research Project

Saturday, January 23, 2016 marked the first public showcase of preliminary results from the Summer of Smoke interdisciplinary mixed methods research project. We were incredibly lucky to have such a wealth of knowledge, experience, and initiative on the speaker’s panel. Much thanks goes out to Dr. Patrick Scott, former Yellowknives Dene chief Fred Sangris, Climate Change and our Lands in Film research coordinator Jessie MacKenzie, Dr. Courtney Howard of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and Dr. James Orbinski of the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

We’d also like to thank everyone who made it out to the Chief Drygeese Centre to take part in this really amazing evening. For those of you who were unable to attend, rest assured that we will be hosting other Summer of Smoke events in the near future, and you can check out some videos from the evening below.

This project is made possible with funding from Health Canada.

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