Health & Wellbeing
Habitat & Species
Changes in aquatic ecosystem health in the Mackenzie Great Bear sub-basin are having moderate impacts on the health and wellbeing of local Indigenous communities. Health and wellbeing are closely linked to access to traditional foods. Some Indigenous communities report consuming less fish than in the past in response to changes in fish populations and concerns about unsafe levels of mercury. Similarly, other communities report a reduction in access to preferred traditional resources and fishing areas given the increased frequency of landslides, permafrost slumps, and lower water levels. Limitations on access and consumption of traditional foods impacts the health and wellbeing of many communities through changes in diets, food security, and reduced opportunities to engage in fishing practices and a traditional way of life. A low availability of scientific data for levels of country food consumption was found.
The following table summarizes the availability of information for each Health and Wellbeing indicator.
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 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 Mackenzie Great Bear sub-basin.
Among the Inuvialuit, the ability to maintain fishing livelihoods depends on how much time people are able to spend fishing outside of their positions in the wage economy. Changes such as a shift towards a settlement-based lifestyle and an increase in access to modern fishing technologies and new modes of transportation like snowmobiles and motorized boats have also altered Inuvialuit fishing practices. The Gwich’in have reported using larger net mesh to reduce catching smaller fish and improve char management efforts. In the Dehcho and Sahtu regions, some Indigenous communities have raised concerns about the presence of mercury and other contaminants, leading some people to consume less fish and traditional foods than in the past.,