NWHU part of newly formed Northern Ontario Climate Change Health Collaborative
Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla - Staff Writer
The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU), in partnership with six other northern Ontario health units, has formed a collaborative network to, “develop a deeper, context-specific understanding of how a changing climate will impact health in the area.”
The April 22, Earth Day, announcement came in response to the updated Ontario Public Health Standards (2018) and Healthy Environments and Climate Change Guideline acknowledging, “the importance of addressing climate change and have mandated health units across Ontario to take appropriate, evidence-informed action to understand and minimize the health impacts of a changing climate.”
NWHU shared that, “With funding support from Health Canada’s HealthADAPT program, NWHU is completing a climate change and health vulnerability and adaptation assessment to identify and prioritize regional climate hazards, populations who will be most impacted, and actions to protect health. The overarching goal of the project is to build and sustain the capacity of NWHU to protect health by identifying and adapting to the risks posed by climate change.”
NWHU shared in their news release, “Have you noticed heavier rainstorms, milder winters, or extreme heat days in the summer? How about more frequent basement floods and road washouts, or changes in traditional wild game or berries? These are all signs of climate change and the effects pose a present and growing threat to human health. On Earth Day, it is time to acknowledge that climate change is already being experienced in a variety of ways in northwestern Ontario, and learn how you can take action to protect yourself and the environment.”
NWHU encouraged residents to celebrate Earth Day, “by getting outdoors and interacting with the environment – go for a walk or cycle, clean up your neighborhood, or start a new gardening project to grow your own vegetables this summer!”
NWHU advised people to remember to follow all COVID-19 prevention measures while conducting these activities.
Sioux Lookout resident Nancy McCord, along with her family, came up with an idea that sparked a social media trend in recognition of Earth Day. They encouraged people to pick up five pieces of litter and post a picture to McCord’s Facebook post. The post encouraged more than 25 families across all ages and walks of life to partake in contributing their share to community cleaning.
Ethan McCord, aged 12, shared, “I just felt that since it was Earth Day, everyone should try to help clean up the Earth.” He added that since this initiative could not be done in a big group, they encouraged people to go out for a little clean up with their families instead.
Nine-year-Donovan McCord shared that the inspiration behind challenging other people to pick up garbage was fueled by his concern of global warming and animals dying from eating garbage.
Ten-year-old Christopher McCord shared the need to protect our planet from pollution. “We thought it would be fun to see how many others would pitch in. It was nice to see so many others would pitch in. It was nice to see so many families from all over Canada pitch in.”