Arctic Community Perspectives on Covid-19 and Public Health: A Multi-Site Case Study

In the Circumpolar region, communities have, and continue, to rise to the challenge of implementing the complex public health measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19. The different national states in which Arctic peoples live have implemented different policies regarding the pandemic, and a variety of public health measures have been introduced to influence/impact community level behaviors: these include, but are not limited to social distancing, travel restrictions, self-isolation, quarantines, mask wearing and testing. At times, these measures are imposed by nation-state onto communities, including Indigenous communities, with little input from those communities. While well intended, community context might require adaptation of the measures, which may or may not be supported by state level decision-makers. Furthermore, Indigenous organizations, governments, communities and leadership require timely and reliable information to prepare, track,and communicate the impacts of COVID-19 in ways that reflect their unique experiences in Arctic communities. To fully understand the implications of COVID-19 in the Arctic, diverse data sources are needed that include Indigenous knowledge and local knowledge with western scientific methods.

The purpose of this project is to implement a three-phase multi-site case study in each Arctic State to assess the positive and negative societal outcomes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in Arctic communities. Specifically, it will assess the impact of public health measures associated with COVID-19. This work will identify community-driven models and evidence-based promising practices and recommendations that can help inform cohesive and coordinated public health responses and protocols related to future public health emergencies in the Arctic. Research sites will include one community each from Nunavut, Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

The project will address the following research questions:

  1. In what ways are public health measures implemented to address the COVID -19 pandemic the same or different in Arctic communities?
  2. What are Arctic community experiences of public health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  3. How has Indigenous knowledge and local knowledge been integrated with recommended/mandated public health measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic?
  4. What coping strategies did Arctic communities engage in to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic?
  5. What can we learn from these community case studies to inform policy and program implementation now and in the future?
Project details
Completion date
Canada, Finland, Norway, United States

Related projects