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Multi-million dollar national Inuit health survey to be led by Inuit, for Inuit

Much of the information currently used to guide Inuit health programs and policies is out of date, and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami hopes to change that with an ambitious new project.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami launches project to gather health information from Inuit, use it to set health policy

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami representatives say all Inuit, no matter how old they are or where they live, will be given the chance to participate in Qanuippitta? National Inuit Health Survey. (WE CAN DO BETTER: Housing in Inuit Nunangat, Senate report)

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is launching an ambitious new project to gather up-to-date health information from Inuit of all ages, wherever they live.

This will be the only comprehensive health survey of Inuit that is controlled by Inuit and based on Inuit values, according to an Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) press release.

"Today, much of the information on Inuit health is out of date and fails to accurately reflect the state of Inuit health and wellness," states the release.

The survey will include questions that focus on physical and mental health, as well as employment, education and food security.

Teams of interviewers and counsellors will visit every community across all four regions of Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland. Those teams will work with community members to carry out the data collection.

The national Inuit health survey is titled Qanuippitaa?, or How Are We? It is an echo of a 2007/08 Inuit health survey, titled Qanuippitali. 

The survey will also be offered to Inuit who live outside of Inuit Nunangat as well, but organizers have not yet worked out the details of how that component will roll out.

The project is funded by the federal government, which has earmarked $82 million over 10 years, with $6 million a year ongoing. 

Teams of interviewers and counsellors will visit every community across all four regions of Inuit Nunangat. The survey will include questions that focus on physical and mental health, as well as employment, education and food security. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The goal isn't just data collection. The organization also wants to use the survey as an opportunity to train Inuit to do their own research.

"This will help ensure that Inuit have greater control over research, while also providing survey and research-related expertise and jobs that will stay in Inuit communities," states the news release.

The survey is being developed by a working group that includes two representatives from each Inuit land-claim organization; representatives from Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and the National Inuit Youth Council; and one representative each from the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Government of Nunavut, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services and Labrador-Grenfell Health.

The working group aims to start collecting data in 2021, and carry out the surveys every five years on a permanent, ongoing basis.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated Qanuippitali was a federally funded health survey. In fact, it was funded through the International Polar Year initiative. Also, a previous version of this story said the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami would be collecting the data. In fact, the working groups will be collecting the data.
    Sep 12, 2019 11:12 AM CT

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