This article describes a pilot study evaluating the sensitivity of Indigenous community health to climate change impacts on Salish Sea shorelines (Washington State, United States and British Columbia, Canada). Current climate change assessments omit key community health concerns, which are vital to successful adaptation plans, particularly for Indigenous communities. Descriptive scaling techniques, employed in facilitated workshops with two Indigenous communities, tested the efficacy of ranking six key indicators of community health in relation to projected impacts to shellfish habitat and shoreline archaeological sites stemming from changes in the biophysical environment. Findings demonstrate that: when shellfish habitat and archaeological resources are impacted, so is Indigenous community health; not all community health indicators are equally impacted; and, the community health indicators of highest concern are not necessarily the same indicators most likely to be impacted. Based on the findings and feedback from community participants, exploratory trials were successful; Indigenous-specific health indicators may be useful to Indigenous communities who are assessing climate change sensitivities and creating adaptation plans.
Additional publication details
Indigenous community health and climate change: integrating biophysical and social science indicators