|Title||Nituuchischaayihtitaau Aschii Multi-Community Environment-and-Health Study in Eyou Istchee, 2005-2009: Final Technical Report|
|Year of Publication||2013|
|Authors||Nieboer E, Dewailly E, Johnson-Down L, Sampasa-Kanyinga H, Chauteau-Degat M-L, Egeland GM, Atikessé L, Dr Robinson EJ, Torrie J|
|Keywords||environmental health, multi community|
The introduction of the hydro-electric projects in the region in the 1970s came with new concerns about increasing mercury levels linked to these dams. In the context of the La Grande Project, this led to the 1986 Mercury Agreement between the Grand Council of the Crees (GCC), the government of Quebec and Hydro-Québec; subsequently, the 2001 Mercury Agreement was implemented in the context of the Eastmain-1 project. Mercury is a concern for human health either from the risk of eating contaminated fish or the risk of poor nutrition linked to not eating fish. For this reason, the 2001 Agreement provided significant money to stimulate the fishery, with $8M set aside to study Cree fish consumption patterns and benefits, as well as exposure to mercury and other contaminants. A legal vehicle, the Eeyou Namess Corporation, was set up to plan, approve and manage projects carried out with these funds.
For a time, there was a question within the Public Health Department about how to best respond to the significant mandate set out in the 2001 Mercury Agreement. Surveillance of a population’s health is one of the primary functions within public health, so the mandate itself was never at issue. Rather, the concern was on how to implement such a large mandate in a small Department with many other priorities.
The response evolved through two processes, one involving a quite separate initiative. The latter was a 2002 study carried out in Oujé-Bougoumou (with Nemaska serving as a non-impacted community); it was designed to look at the health impacts of mine tailings on the environment and human health (Dewailly and Nieboer, 2005). In effect, the design of that study addressed many of the objectives of the 2001 Mercury Agreement, and thus was able to serve as a precursor and model for subsequent studies developed under the Mercury Agreement (2001) funds. The other process was a direct, planning consultation with the communities and Cree entities about their needs for and the feasibility of doing such a comprehensive environment-and-health study with the Mercury Agreement funds (Nieboer and VanSpronsen, 2004). This happened in late 2003 and early 2004, and it led directly into the development of the protocol for a study which was accepted by the Eeyou Namess Corporation1 for a pilot study in 2005 in Mistissini.
Thus, the main objectives of the Nituuchischaayihtitaau Aschii Environment-and-Health Longitudinal Study in Eeyou Istchee were to: investigate health effects in relation to lifestyle, environmental contaminants exposure, and diet (assess exposure to environmental contaminants and nutrient intake); and investigate the links between wildlife health, quality of aquatic environments and human health.
Nituuchischaayihtitaau Aschii Multi-Community Environment-and-Health Study in Eyou Istchee, 2005-2009: Final Technical Report