Communications, Capacity and Outreach

4.1      Introduction

This Blueprint outlines the funding priorities under the Communications, Capacity and Outreach (CC&O) subprogram of the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) for 2017-2018. The amount of funding available this year is:

  • $150,000 for projects as described under section 4.5.1, 4.5.2 and 4.5.3 below; and
  • $450,000 for Core Communications and Capacity-Building  as described under section 4.5.4 below

4.2 Goal and Objectives

The overall goal of the CC&O subprogram is to support and facilitate activities and initiatives that: (a) raise awareness of contaminants in the North from long-range sources and the work that is under way to address the issue; (b) help to support food choice decisions among consumers of traditional/country foods; and (c) build capacity in the North to participate in and/or contribute to addressing these issues.

4.3 Context

The NCP has been communicating about long-range contaminants and building capacity in the North for more than twenty years. In that time, much has been learned about the presence, trends and health effects of contaminants in the North, as well as about how to communicate this complex information, and how best to engage Northerners in research, monitoring and outreach activities. There have been many outreach efforts to target audiences over the years using a variety of methods (e.g., posters, newsletters, development of school curricula, community tours, radio call-in shows,regional and community workshops, frontline training courses and Elder–scientist retreats).

The presence and effects of long-range contaminants is one of several environmental, social and health issues faced in the North. NCP-funded studies in which community members across theNorth were surveyed on the importance of contaminants information in their food choices have concluded that, in most cases, the contaminant issue is low on the list of driving forces for community members in choosing what to eat.

Given this finding, the NCP’s approach reflects an understanding that information about contaminants is best shared with northern community members within the context of other relevant information and concerns. For example, instead of creating focused workshops and newsletters entirely devoted to the issue of contaminants, public health authorities have deemed it appropriate to insert contaminant messaging into existing public health messages and education efforts. This type of work is encouraged by the NCP. Wherever possible, NCP communications work should be integrated into already existing avenues for communication.

4.4 Links with other NCP Subprograms

The Communications, Capacity and Outreach subprogram is designed to be complementary to the other three NCP subprograms (Human Health, Environmental Monitoring and Research and Community-Based Monitoring and Research). These subprograms are designed to be complementary, and projects that link two or more subprograms are encouraged.

Monitoring and research projects supported through other NCP subprograms (e.g., Human Health; Community-Based Monitoring and Research; Environmental Monitoring and Research) may also have communications/capacity-building/outreach aspects to them and which are to be integrated within the scope and budgets of their main project funding and work plan.

4.5 Priorities for Activities in 2017-2018

The NCP is seeking proposals for projects and activities that are cross-cutting and strategic, and that are broader in scope than project-specific results dissemination, with a focus on:

  • Assessment of promising practices in communication and engagement (section 4.5.1)
  • Delivery of synthesized contaminants messages (section 4.5.2), and
  • Development and assessment of new tools, resources, and approaches for communication (section 4.5.3).

A total of $150,000 is available for these three priorities.

4.5.1 Assessment of promising practices in communication and engagement

This priority area provides opportunities to gather examples of promising practices and assess lessons learned with respect to communicating about contaminants. This includes looking at past NCP communication and engagement methods and activities that have been especially effective, as well as those taking place within other northern programs, and looks into the potential for use of new approaches to communications (e.g. use of new technologies) in a northern context. The goal of this priority is to bring together promising practices, including the evidence describing their impact where possible, and make them readily available to NCP researchers and frontline communicators. Projects could be regionally-based, or could be centred on a particular type of research (e.g., human health communications, or methods of engagement around wildlife monitoring). Activities may include:

  • Identifying and assessing practices in taking project results and putting them in an easily accessible and understandable format that communicators of contaminants information, including regional health authorities, can use to make decisions.

4.5.2 Delivery of synthesized contaminants messages

This priority area supports the delivery of synthesized messages related to contaminants, particularly as presented in a regional context, bringing together information from several NCP projects, and building on the results and key messages from the most recent Canadian Arctic Contaminants Assessment Reports III and AMAP reports. Note that delivery of individual project results to the communities in which sampling took place falls under the responsibility of the Human Health, Community Based Monitoring, or Environmental Monitoring and Research subprograms.

  • Delivering a synthesis or compilation of the results of several projects on contaminants in one or more regions (e.g., regional results workshops, posters, newsletters). These syntheses should be placed in the proper public health context for the region and integrated among related projects (even from different funding programs) occurring in the same location.
  • Delivering a regionally-focused workshop, especially if there is significant co-funding  and a demonstrated need to disseminate information (e.g., elevated levels of contaminants and a perceived health risk related to traditional/country foods).
  • Developing messages and communication tools that highlight the 25 years of work undertaken in the NCP.

4.5.3 Development and assessment of new tools and resources for communication and engagement

This priority provides the opportunity for projects to develop and, when possible, assess new tools and methods of communication and engagement.  It allows for the exploration and assessment of whether technologies like online social media, webinars, and internet-based applications and methods would be effective in communicating about long-range environmental contaminants.

While there are many barriers in the North to extensive use of internet-based tools, projects under this priority could assess which regions would be best placed to use new communications technologies, and which methods would be most successful in reaching an audience to provide information that assists informed decision making by individuals and communities in their food use.

4.5.4  Core communications and capacity building

The NCP supports Regional Contaminants Committees (RCCs) in five regions (Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut) and Inuit Research Advisors (IRAs) in four regions (Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut), all of which play a key role in the communications network of the NCP.

Proposals for RCCs and IRAs are invited from the organizations listed as Project Leaders in the table below. A total of $450,000 is available for these projects.

NCP Core communications and capacity building activities
ProjectProject Leader
Yukon Contaminants Committee INAC-Yukon

NWT Regional Contaminants Committee

(including participation funds for members)

INAC-NWT
Nunavut Environmental Contaminants Committee INAC - Nunavut
Nunavik Nutrition and Health Committee Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services
Nunatsiavut Government Research Advisory Committee Nunatsiavut Government

Inuit Research Advisors

  • Inuvialuit Settlement Region
  • Nunavut
  • Nunavik
  • Nunatsiavut

 

  • Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
  • TBD
  • Kativik Regional Government
  • Nunatsiavut Government

 

4.5.4.1          Responsibilities and activities of a Regional Contaminants Committee

Regional Contaminants Committees act as NCP representatives in the North, liaising with communities to inform them of NCP activities, but also to bring community concerns and issues back to the program. They support and assist NCP researchers to develop communications plans, build northern capacity within their projects, and consult with appropriate northern stakeholders. Activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Facilitating  a contaminants communications network that ensures community members are informed and involved in contaminant related activities
  • Identifying regional and community priorities and information gaps related to environmental contaminants and human health research
  • Providing updates on research activities in the region that relate to environmental contaminants
  • Maintaining a current catalogue of contacts and resource materials regarding environmental contaminants
  • Assisting in the development of appropriate communication strategies to effectively relay information regarding contaminants
  • Reviewing NCP proposals, Blueprints and communication materials related to the region on an annual basis
  • Providing advice to contaminants researchers working in the region on matters related to community engagement, consultation, research permitting, results communication, and capacity building and training.

4.5.4.2          Responsibilities and activities of Inuit Research Advisors

The Northern Contaminants Program, along with ArcticNet, support regional Inuit Research Advisor (IRA) positions in each of the four Inuit Land Claim regions of the Canadian Arctic. The Inuit Research Advisors can help facilitate research in Inuit regions for these programs on contaminants, climate change and environmental health and engage Inuit in undertaking research activities of importance to their communities.  Activities should include, but are not limited to:

  • Participating in meetings of Regional Contaminants Committee and informing committee of ArcticNet activities, as well as activities of their host organization
  • Contacting researchers who have been funded to inquire about the communication of their findings and the need to form building capacity in communities
  • Contacting all NCP researchers to see what they plan to communicate, to whom and when, and present this information at your Regional Contaminants Committee meetings
  • Reviewing and commenting on the messages being developed by NCP researchers. (as part, or independent, of RCCs)
  • Completing a Research Monitoring Form each time they are contacted by a researcher, and submitting all completed forms with the annual Synopsis Report.
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