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Cultural continuity and Inuit health in Arctic Canada


Background Previous research association increased levels of cultural continuity and decreased rates of youth suicide in First Nations communities. We investigate the relationship between cultural continuity and self-rated health looking specifically at Inuit living in the Canadian Arctic.

Methods The Arctic Supplements of the Aboriginal Peoples Survey from years 2001 and 2006 were appended to explore the relationship between various measures of cultural continuity and self-rated health. These measures include access to government services in an Aboriginal language, Inuit cultural variables, community involvement and governance. Literature related to Inuit social determinants of health and health-related behaviours were used to build the models.

Results All measures of cultural continuity were shown to have a positive association with self-rated health for Inuit participants. Background and other control variables influenced the strength of the association but not the direction of the association. Access to services in an Aboriginal language, harvesting activities and government satisfaction were all significantly related to the odds of better health outcomes. Finally, the study contributes a baseline from a known data horizon against which future studies can assess changes and understand future impacts of changes.

Conclusion The Canadian government and other agencies should address health inequalities between Inuit and non-Inuit people through programmes designed to foster cultural continuity at a community level. Providing access to services in an Aboriginal language is a superficial way of promoting cultural alignment of these services; however, more inclusion of Inuit traditional knowledge is needed to have a positive influence on health.

  • health policy
  • health behaviour
  • lifestyle
  • self-rated health
  • social activities

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