Impacts of environmental changes on well-being in Indigenous communities in eastern Canada.
Laura Marcela Fuentes Serna, Hugo Asselin, Annie Claude Bélisle, Oscar Labra.
Climate change and natural resource exploitation can affect Indigenous people’s well-being by reducing access to ecosystem services, in turn impeding transmission of traditional knowledge and causing mental health problems. We used a questionnaire based on the Environmental Distress Scale (EDS) and the Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC-10) to examine the impacts of environmental changes on 251 members of four Indigenous communities in the eastern Canadian boreal forest. We also considered the potential mitigating effects of sociodemographic characteristics (i.e., age, gender, parenthood, and time spent on the land) and protective factors (i.e., health, quality of life, resilience, life on the land, life in the community, and support from family and friends). Using linear regression, model selection, and multi-model inference, we show that the felt impacts of environmental changes increased with age but were lower for participants with higher quality of life. The effect of resilience was opposite to expectations: more resilient participants felt more impacts. This could be because less resilient individuals ceased to go on the land when environmental changes exceeded a given threshold; thus, only the most resilient participants could testify to the impacts of acute changes. Further research will be needed to test this hypothesis.