Health & Wellbeing
Habitat & Species
Changes in aquatic ecosystem health in the Athabasca sub-basin are having moderate impacts on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities. Health and wellbeing are closely linked to access to traditional foods. Many Indigenous communities report consuming less fish than in the past in response to concerns about contamination of the water and fish from upstream industrial projects and elevated mercury levels in some fish populations. Access to fishing and trapping areas is also disrupted by lower water levels and more navigable hazards, particularly in the Athabasca River. A team of scientists, elders and trappers have documented a significant decline in muskrat populations from the Peace-Athabasca Delta in recent decades, and as a result, fewer Indigenous communities consume muskrat as part of their diet. Low availability of scientific data was found for levels of country food consumption in the Athabasca sub-basin.
The following table summarizes the availability of information for each Health and Wellbeing indicator.
Signs and Signals
Indigenous Knowledge Information and Data
Indigenous Knowledge Availability in Public Sources1
Science Information and Data
Science Data Availability2
Decrease in country food consumption (overall or specific species); access or safety considerations
Many observations from several locations.
Statistics on the number of people eating wild food versus store food
Low data availability, inconsistent monitoring.
1 Qualifiers for the availability of local and Indigenous Knowledge observations in publicly available sources: Limited = 1-2 observations; Some = 3-4 observations; Many = 5 or more observations
2 Qualifiers for the availability of science data in publicly available sources: Low = Individual studies or locations; Many = Network of monitoring stations across the basin
Decreases in the consumption of country foods and access and safety concerns in reaching harvesting areas have been reported in the Athabasca sub-basin.