ITK launches new Inuit health survey

Survey to take place every five years in all four regions starting in 2021

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed announces the creation of a second Inuit-led national health survey that will take place throughout Inuit Nunangat in 2021. Flanking him at the announcement, held in Rankin Inlet on Thursday, Sept. 12, are, clockwise from top right: Inuvialuit​ Regional Corporation chair Duane Smith, Nunatsiavut president Johannes Lampe, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki Kotierk, Inuit Circumpolar Council–Canada president Monica Ell, Makivik president Charlie Watt and National Inuit Youth Council vice-president Mary Andersen. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Emma Tranter

(Updated and corrected at 5:45 p.m., Sept. 12)

A new Inuit health survey will take place throughout Inuit Nunangat in 2021, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami announced today.

ITK launched the survey, called Qanuippitaa?, at their annual general meeting in Rankin Inlet.

The survey will be developed and led by a working group made up of the four Inuit regional organizations, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, Makivik Corporation, the Nunatsiavut Government, Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and the National Inuit Youth Council, ITK said in a news release.

“That gives me a huge hope that we are going to be able to now talk more definitively about our social conditions than we ever have been before,” said ITK president Natan Obed during the announcement.

“That allows us then to work on policy change in a much more specific way because it gives us more information that we can rely on.”

A previous Inuit health survey took place more than 10 years ago, in 2007-2008. It was developed by representatives from southern universities in partnership with organizations like the Nunatsiavut government, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Inuvialuit Regional Corp. and the Nunavut Association of Municipalities.

The 2007-2008 survey, called Qanuippitali and funded with $10.6 million through the International Polar Year, was conducted from aboard the Coast Guard’s research vessel, the Amundsen, which called at nearly every Inuit community in Nunavut, Labrador and the Northwest Territories.

A similar Inuit health survey was done from the Amundsen in Nunavik in 2004, and again in 2017.

But this survey will be permanent and will cover all four regions of Inuit Nunangat at the same time. It’s funded by a 2018 federal budget allocation of $82 million over 10 years, with about $6 million a year after that.

The survey will take place every five years, in every community in Inuit Nunangat. Data will be collected by Inuit and reflect Inuit priorities, ITK said.

It will also include Inuit of all ages from all four regions and all 51 communities, Obed said.

“This is a large undertaking. We have taken a cautious approach all the way through…. 2021 was a cautious marker right from the beginning because we got the money in 2018. So for a lot of people, waiting three years to start a survey might be too long, but for us, we had to start this from scratch, and we want to do this right,” Obed said.

The survey is still in its development phase, which includes creating questionnaires and establishing community connections before the project begins, ITK said.

“Often the way in which we make headway with the federal government or with provinces or territories is by using information, using data. And often the data is collected either by the federal government or by independent researchers and it gets summarized through their lens,” Obed said.

“And then we have often had to use that information to talk about the Inuit condition, whether it’s the rate of cancer or our mental health.”

Another goal of the survey is to train Inuit to conduct the surveys on an ongoing basis.

“This will help to ensure Inuit have greater control over research, while also providing survey and research-related expertise and jobs that will stay in Inuit communities,” said the release.

One problem with the previous ship-borne surveys is that people who were unable to board, such as elders or pregnant women, were often unable to participate.

The new survey will be conducted in-person, with surveyors flying in to each community, ITK said.

The new logo contains four distinct elements to reflect the collaboration between the four Inuit regions, ITK said.

ITK’s annual general meeting wraps up this afternoon at the Mary Our Mother Church in Rankin Inlet.


The first national Inuit health survey was developed by representatives from southern universities in partnership with the Nunatsiavut government, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., and the Inuvialuit Regional Corp., the Nunavut Association of Municipalities and other organizations. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that it was operated by ITK.

Share This Story

(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northern Guy on

    So let me see if I got this right. Seven or so largely political organizations with no experience running health programs, no staff with experience delivering health care programs or any actual responsibility for delivering healthcare programs have been given $82 million to deliver an Inuit health survey. Yeah good luck with that

    • Posted by That NS Guy on

      Northern guy, you got that right – through your own judgemental, pessimistic lens.

      The point of this initiative is to collect data through a non-biased, locally favourable fashion to help Inuit. It will help by allowing Inuit leaders to table data that has been collected in an efficient manner, a manner that is not affected by southern institution and remote interests – that is to say, the data is collected through a lens that focuses on our local issues, not remote interests. Do you understand? Get your eyes checked

      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        All fine and dandy but how do effectively design and carry out a health survey when you have no idea what questions to ask. Health surveys require a rigorous epidemiological understanding about the pathways of diseaese and the conditions that contribute to their development. Do you really think any of these organizations are equipped to do this work? It also begs the question why do you with the results? They aren’t in a position to offer any kind of health-related intervention so “what then?”

        • Posted by Mandarin Orange on

          Dear Northern guy;

          You say “Health surveys require a rigorous epidemiological understanding about the pathways of diseaese (sic)”. I don’t think so. The purpose of a health survey is not to form prognosis. The questions would obviously be developed in conjunction with health experts. And remember there are previous studies to reference as well.

          It could be equally said that delivering a survey is a logistical challenge that a panel of health experts have no clue how to do in either.

          Your comments are raw hysteria.

          • Posted by Northern Guy on

            Clearly you don’t understand how health surveys are designed and implemented and the traps of not doing them within a rigorous framework within a properly developed evaluation methodology (epidemiology 101) to avoid open-ended questions, confirmation bias etc.. As to hiring health experts to carry out the process how is that any different that what was done in the past? What exactly makes this a made for Inuit by Inuit process if you are simply substituting one set of non-Inuit non-northern experts for another?

    • Posted by Your fallacy is… on

      A health survey is not a health program. You’ve committed the false association fallacy “which asserts that the qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another… Association fallacies… are a type of red herring fallacy that introduces irrelevant premises into an argument and draws an invalid conclusion.” ( Note, these arguments often make an appeal to emotion, as you have most shamefully done.

      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        I am not conflating anything and I understand the difference between a program and a survey. Two questions though. How do you design a proper health survey when you have no experience delivering and managing health programs? Two, what do you do with the survey results when you have no responsibility for delivering health care in you respective regions?

        • Posted by Your fallacy is… on

          You are absolutely conflating the two. Running a health program and delivering a survey are not the same thing at all. You hire people with expertise to develop questions, do you really think Natan and Aluki are going to write this, get real man, your comments are laughable.

          • Posted by Northern Guy on

            If ITK et. al. hire external experts to design and carry out the survey how is that any different from the way it was done before? How is a survey designed and implemented by external hired guns a “made by Inuit for Inuit survey”. Nor have you explained what happens to the results? Are those with health delivery responsibilities simply supposed to accept the findings and blindly redirect resources to address them based a process they had no say in developing. How naive are you?

Comments are closed.