Northern ecosystems are changing rapidly and Indigenous and coastal populations, who cultivate a close relationship with their land, are particularly vulnerable to these changes. While older persistent organic pollutants are declining, mercury remains a topical issue in the North. Each year, several new chemicals are also placed on the market and subsequently found in the North, with unknown impacts on the health of its inhabitants. Global changes also exert increasing pressure on marine ecosystems and eventually on food security, which is still precarious in several Indigenous and coastal communities.
Local foods are important for health, social cohesion, cultural continuity, human-nature connections and food sovereignty. Foods from the sea also are exceptionally rich in nutrients such as selenoneine, an anti-oxidant selenium compound that we recently identified in Arctic marine foods. These may help prevent diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, enhance brain development and/or counteract the toxic effects of environmental contaminants.
My research program focuses on three Axes: 1. Environmental contaminants exposure and effects of contaminants and contaminant-nutrient interactions on health; 2. Impacts of global ecosystem changes on food security and health; 3. Mobilize knowledge into actions to co-develop, co-implement and co-evaluate interventions and adaptation strategies.
These will be achieved by collecting, (re)analysing and integrating data from past, on-going and future research projects realised in collaboration with Inuit from Nunavik, Inuit from Qikiqtarjuaq (Nunavut), First Nations youth across the country and coastal populations from French Polynesia, Bermuda, Magdalen Islands, Gaspésie and Bas-Saint-Laurent as well as projects assessing the impacts of climate changes on marine wildlife.
My 4-year research program will act in prevention to minimize the emergence of non-communicable diseases among Indigenous Peoples and coastal populations, improve food sovereignty, increase resilience to global changes and promote northern and coastal ecosystems as a land to cultivate health and well-being.