Over 650 health professionals, researchers, indigenous representatives, and government officials from Canada, Greenland, Denmark, USA, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and other countries interested in circumpolar health gathered in Yellowknife, NT, Canada on July 11-16, 2009 to share health related research findings and program successes that improve the quality of life for those living in circumpolar regions. The week-long event featured thought-provoking keynote addresses, workshops, information sessions, social activities, and networking activities that provided many opportunities for scientific, artistic, cultural, and social exchanges.
ICHR was instrumental in organizing this historic conference, held in Yellowknife for the first time in 35 years. Led by Congress Coordinator Pat Thagard, ICHR coordinated both the scientific and organizing committees, as well as the logistics of the entire meeting through its role as Congress Secretariat.
The International Congress, came at a special time as it closely followed the conclusion of the International Polar Year (IPY), a research initiative that takes place once every fifty years. From 2007 to 2010, countries and communities have focused their attention on health and wellbeing and environmental issues in the circumpolar world. The Congress recognized the end of the Polar Year through its theme, Securing the IPY Legacy: From Research to Action.
The Congress programme contained a broad cross section of presenters and sessions. The sessions allowed for complimentary perspectives of researchers, clinicians, community representatives and governments on numerous topics, which impact public health, health services delivery, the research process and Indigenous wellness in our circumpolar regions. The presentations demonstrated examples where research findings are applied in numerous settings, with uptake by clinicians, communities, and governments. Presentations also recognized the contributions of stakeholders through the research process with a particular focus on community engagement and participatory methods.
In addition to the scientific programme, meetings, cultural events and social gatherings provided opportunities for networking and development of partnerships to support the ongoing enhancement of evidence for health and wellbeing in circumpolar regions. It is these partnerships which will contribute significantly to securing the IPY legacy and turn research into practical, applicable, and sustainable health care approaches and practices.
On a local level, the Congress connected participants with the people, places, and experiences that make northern Canada spectacular and showcased the cultural richness and diversity of Yellowknife, the Northwest Territories, and the Canadian North. At the Weledeh Feast, the Northern Cultural Gala, and the community Teepee, local and regional Aboriginal voices were front and centre, sharing knowledge, practices, and culture amongst the participants from the entire circumpolar world.
The proceedings book was prepared for publication by ICHR in conjunction with the staff of the International Journal on Circumpolar Health.