Inuit, environmental groups call for stronger measures to reduce underwater noise
Hunters from Pond Inlet, Nvt. — known as Mittimatalik in Inuktitut — have said they’re seeing fewer narwhal in areas where they were once abundant, making it harder to feed their families, and that the whales’ behaviour is changing.
Lisa Koperqualuk, vice chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, says that’s because of noise from ships.
“It impacts our culture when marine animals are disturbed and are not in their usual places,” she said, adding hunters have to travel further to find narwhal.
Research has found narwhal are sensitive to noise. Aerial surveys indicate their numbers are declining in Eclipse Sound on the northeastern end of Baffin Island during the summer.
A 2020 report by the Fisheries Department suggests that could be due to increasing ship traffic from mining, cruises, ice breaking and development, as well as other factors such as the presence of killer whales or natural movement in the region.
Newly revised international guidelines on reducing underwater noise from ships recognize the unique effects on Inuit, but environmental and Inuit organizations say stronger measures are needed.
The International Maritime Organization’s subcommittee on ship design and construction met in London last week, where members agreed on revisions to the 2014 guidelines. They include updated technical knowledge and sample templates for underwater noise management plans.
The draft updated guidelines also reference Indigenous knowledge and Inuit Nunaat, or Inuit homeland in the United States, Canada, Greenland and Russia. There, it states effects from underwater noise on marine life could be greater due to ice breaking, the presence of noise-sensitive species and Indigenous hunting rights.
“That is something ICC is really encouraged about because really we are the first Indigenous organization to have a voice at the IMO,” Koperqualuk said.
The council, which represents about 180,000 Inuit worldwide, wanted a separate section included in the guidelines focusing on challenges particular to the Arctic and Inuit Nunaat. For instance, it said noise travels further in cold water and expressed concern about the consequences for marine species Inuit rely on for food, culture and livelihoods.
Koperqualuk said there was interest in specific recommendations for ships operating in these waters, such as using Indigenous knowledge in voyage planning, but the north-specific section was ultimately not included in the guidelines because it’s not universally applicable.
Koperqualuk also noted the guidelines are voluntary and there has been little uptake by ship owners.
Andrew Dumbrille with the Clean Arctic Alliance, made up of 20 non-profit organizations, agreed there is a need for mandatory measures.
He pointed to a 2019 study on implementation of the existing guidelines overseen by World Wildlife Fund Canada, the Chamber of Shipping America, World Maritime University and Transport Canada. Several organizations reported they were a low priority as they are not mandatory as well as barriers such as the lack of baseline measurements for underwater noise or reduction targets.
“These new guidelines are more detailed and they have the latest science and latest perspective on not only underwater noise impacts but technology fixes and management solutions,” Dumbrille said.
“Unfortunately these guidelines are still voluntary and so that’s problematic on a number of levels.”
The revised guidelines are to be submitted to the Marine Environmental Protection Commission in July for approval.
A working group tasked with reviewing the guidelines ran out of time last week to finalize a list of suggested next steps, areas needing further research and assessment, and suggestions to increase awareness and uptake of the guidelines. Dumbrille said a correspondence group will continue that work.
“The pathway to regulatory measures is slow,” he said. “Some people are saying it’s not fast enough to respond to the threat and the urgency and the need around addressing underwater noise because our oceans are getting louder and that’s especially true for the Arctic.”
The Arctic has some of the lowest underwater sound levels on Earth, but research suggests that could change as new shipping routes open due to sea ice loss.
A study published in the scientific journal Environmental Pollution in October predicts underwater noise emissions from ships could double every 11 and a half years on average without incentives or regulatory steps. A 2021 report by the Arctic Council found noise pollution from ships had doubled in some areas of the Arctic between 2013 and 2019.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada says underwater noise has been linked to a wide range of effects on marine species that rely on sound, including behavioural changes, habitat loss, increased stress levels and permanent injury or death.
Transport Canada saidit’s pleased with the revised international guidelines, but acknowledged more work is needed.
In June 2021, Transport Canada announced the Quiet Vessel Initiative with $26 million in funding over five years to test the most promising technologies, vessel designs, retrofits and operational practices to make ships quieter. Ottawa has also been developing an Ocean Noise Strategy which, it expects to launch later this year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2023.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Emily Blake, The Canadian Press
Once homeless and hungry herself, this retired nurse set up a low-cost meat shop to help those in need – CBC.ca
Ten years ago, Brigida Crosbie was homeless and eating out of the dumpster at the back of a KFC restaurant, but now she runs her own meat shop and goes out of her way to feed everyone who comes through her doors.
In 2020, Crosbie started Tydel Foods, a store staffed by volunteers in Chilliwack, a small city 90 kilometres east of Vancouver in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, that sells quality food cheaper than the big box stores. A rib-eye steak, for instance, goes for $8 less than at the supermarket. Striploin is $6 cheaper.
Her volunteers, many of whom became aware of her work through word of mouth or social media, say they signed up to help because they support what she’s doing for the community.
Crosbie’s store is often packed with customers, a sign of the deep need for affordable food as inflation hits record highs. The latest report from Food Banks Canada says the demand for food banks in B.C. increased by 25 per cent from 2021 to 2022, higher than the national average of 15 per cent.
She says she finds it surprising how easily she’s able to sell her meat for less than a large grocery store.
“The big thing in my mind is if I could give this price and I’m just a person off the street that’s just an advocate in the community, then how come the bigger box stores can’t give it at a much lower price?”
Crosbie has programs focused on helping seniors, people with disabilities and those who are homeless.
For seniors, she offers packages containing a selection of meats for $50. On Saturdays, the store offers free soup, stew or chlli.
Crosbie says she manages to ensure everyone leaves her shop with food.
“When someone tells me they couldn’t eat, I know exactly how that felt, and that’s how I got into meat,” said Crosbie, who says her business philosophy is “people over profit,” and she chose meat because it’s one of the biggest expenses on a food bill.
WATCH | Brigida Crosbie talks about how she came to open her low-cost meat shop:
Crosbie says she started Tydel because she remembers what it’s like to be hungry.
A decade ago, she left an abusive partner, taking her two daughters, Tyanna and Delana. Although Crosbie was employed as a nurse at Fraser Health Authority, the family of three was temporarily homeless.
“You’re sleeping on a concrete pillow, and then you had to eat out of the garbage — that was the worst thing,” she recalled.
Eventually, with help from a friend who loaned her money and her bank, who helped her access emergency funds, Crosbie found an apartment for herself and her daughters in the mid-2010s.
When she retired from Fraser Health in 2020, she decided to open a low-cost food store. She began by googling how to run a business and took out a small loan.
She named the store Tydel, a melding of the names of her two daughters.
Demand for low-cost food
Crosbie says her empathy and past experiences have motivated her to give. She says she also experienced hunger in her childhood. Her father was in prison, and her mother, who died at 49, had substance abuse issues.
When customers who come into the store can’t afford the prices or don’t have any money, Crosbie says she gives them food for free.
Crosbie says she’s able to turn a small profit because there’s a high demand for low-cost food. She says she sets her prices only marginally higher than her cost, but the high volume of customers manages to keep her in business.
“The need is so high in the community for this price point of affordable food … It’s the turnover of people that come in that helps keeps us afloat,” said Crosbie.
To help offset expenses, she says she uses the optional tips on her debit machine and pays for various expenses from her own pension cheque.
“So long as I meet my lease, that’s all that matters to me.”
Customers say they have come to rely on Tydel as the cost of living goes up.
“If it wasn’t for her, a lot of us wouldn’t eat properly,” said Joann Gianforte, a frequent customer who is in her 70s and spends most of her income on rent.
Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove says he has gone on a number of delivery runs with Crosbie.
“She’s a rock star. She provides an awesome service at awesome prices,” said Popove, who added that some local food processors donate to Tydel Foods.
Popove says there is a need for more organizations like Crosbie’s.
“The government’s got to play a role in it too. They have in the past and continue to do so, but they need to step up.”
Systemic Racism in Canada Healthcare Sector
In Canada, there is evidence of inequities for some races, especially racial minority groups. Health disparities are widespread among racial minorities like the indigenous people leading to the experience of subs-standard health outcomes by these communities compared to the majority races. The conditions of the indigenous communities are worsened because of the low socio-economic situation and lack of access to quality health care. Systemic racism within healthcare remains a huge contributor to lower health outcomes for racial minorities in Canada. There are documented pieces of evidence showing poor health outcomes among racial minorities because of systemic racism, failures of existing policies in mitigating systemic racism, and actions that policymakers can take to mitigate systemic racism.
There are many reported cases of improper health care given to racial minorities in Canada. Reports indicate that indigenous women are being coerced or manipulated into sterilization. The men have often been ignored when they seek emergency treatments; they are left to suffer for long hours, sometimes, die (Boyer, 2017). Boyer gives an example of seven women who contacted the Saskatoon Health Region Commission and confirmed to have been subjected to coercion to have them have a tubal ligation post-delivery (2017). Boyer (2017) continues to say that many of them consented to the procedure because they were manipulated to believe it was reversible. The women added that social workers, nurses, and the physicians in the hospital pressured them when they were either in the pain of labor or just after delivery (Boyer, 2017). During this period, the victims were most vulnerable and powerless to resist coercion and manipulation. The women have suffered immensely after the tubal litigation (Boyer, 2017). According to Boyer, the commission concluded that the health Centre encouraged discriminatory and racial health care for indigenous women.
Another example of systemic racism is portended after the inquest into Brian Sinclair’s death, a First Nations man. Brian Sinclair was a 45 years old man who died in 2008 after being neglected in the Health Sciences emergency department for 34 hours. He dies of a treatable infection in the bladder. In the inquest, the working group identified several racist events that led to his death (Gunn, 2020). For instance, Sinclaire was visible to all the emergency staff in the emergency room. Yet, they ignored him, assuming he may be intoxicated, homeless, or just hanging around the room. According to Gunn, he was not questioned for the entire 34 hours (2020).” Even when the public intervened,” Gunn (2020) continues, “the emergency staff quickly dismissed them by stating that Sinclair was intoxicated or sleeping and that he was not sick at all.” The working group concluded that Sinclair was a victim of racial stereotyping and that the emergency staff was guilty of his death.
The two cases are just a few examples that indicate that the current anti-racism policies have failed. The two cases demonstrate how healthcare seekers from minority racial groups face racial discrimination daily when seeking medical care. Mahabir et al. (2021) agree. He says that racialized healthcare systems, especially from Toronto, have significant ethnic and racial-based discrimination exacerbating the healthcare challenges to the already socio-economically disadvantaged racial and ethnic minorities. Mahabir et al. points out that these hospitals prioritize unequal access to care (2021). Discrimination and bias adversely affect the indigenous communities in Canada. Many suffered from worsened medical conditions, stigma and loss of human dignity and in some cases loss of life.
To mitigate the effects of systemic racism among racial minorities, Mahabir et al. recommend enacting anti-racist policies that address racial discrimination against minorities and, more fundamentally, address the unequal power in social relations and their relation to the healthcare systems (2021). Resources must be committed to the investigations to achieve structural so that when complaints are reported, accountability and punishment can be meted out to the perpetrators of racism.
In conclusion, despite the enactment of many policies and laws aimed at taming racial discrimination in the healthcare system, racism is still pervasive, especially in those situated in the indigenous community’s surroundings. There are many documented cases to prove that. Therefore, stakeholders should relook at the existing policies to improve them by modifying, overhauling, or enforcing them where necessary. Without taking these steps, racial discrimination will grow because the perpetrators will be encouraged, and the strides already taken in the fight against discrimination in the healthcare system will be reversed.
Boyer, Y. (2017, November 20). Healing racism in canadian health care. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5698028/
Gunn, B. (2020). Racism ignored. Ignored Racism, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108861915.003
Mahabir, D. F., OCampo, P., Lofters, A., Shankardass, K., Salmon, C., & Muntaner, C. (2021, March 10). Experiences of everyday racism in Toronto’s health care system: A concept mapping study – international journal for equity in health. BioMed Central. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from https://equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12939-021-01410-9
Comedian Joe Avati Set to Bring Down the House on the Canadian Leg of His World Tour this Summer
Toronto, ON – Comedian, Joe Avati, will have Canadians roaring in their seats as he delivers his unique brand of comedy to audiences in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec this summer. When I Was Your Age takes the world-famous Australian comic’s reputation for pointing out the humour in generational and cultural differences one step further by putting a hilarious spin on the complexities of modern-day parenting, the minefield of cancel culture, and the woke brigade. Audiences are asked to leave their political correctness at the door as he delivers his side-splitting insights on how times have changed, for better or worse, since he grew up as a teenager in the 80’s. Avati’s comedic observations are not only deadly accurate but extremely relatable to all ages, guaranteeing a laugh-a-minute show that the whole family can enjoy.
A household name here in Canada, Avati is one of the original ethnic comedians. He first connected with his audience 25 years ago through his hilarious anecdotes about growing up in Australia as the child of Italian immigrants. That, along with his razor-sharp wit and priceless observations about generational differences, have since established him as a household name around the world as well as in Australia, North America and the UK where he regularly performs to sold-out crowds. Setting him apart from other humorists is the fact that Avati has endeared himself into the hearts of his fans by keeping his shows clean and free from profanities, which means that fittingly, all generations can enjoy his shows together!
“I have performed to comedy lovers of all ages—mums and dads, teens, and even kids because everyone can relate to my stories,” Avati explains. “I can’t wait to bring my new tour to Canada this summer because Canadians are the best audience!” And it’s no wonder. Avati has had the privilege of selling out Canada’s top venues many times over since he started touring here in 2001. He also boasts two number one live comedy albums here in the Great White North with one of those albums having held the top spot for 18 months straight.
Tickets for When I Was Your Age Canadian dates are on sale now at www.joeavati.com.
June 3 Vancouver, BC
June 4 Kelowna, BC
June 13 Winnipeg, MA
June 14 Winnipeg, MA
June 16 Edmonton, AB
June 17 Calgary, AB
June 17 Calgary, AB
June 18 Calgary, AB
July 6 Toronto, ON
July 7 Toronto, ON
July 8 St Catharines,
July 9 Windsor, ON
July 12 Thunder Bay, ON
July 15 Ottawa, ON
July 22 Montreal, QC
About Joe Avati
Heralded by The Globe and Mail as “one of the world’s hottest comics” and dubbed as Australia’s answer to Jerry Seinfeld for his unique brand of clean comedy, Joe Avati has become a household name over the course of his 25-year career. Establishing him firmly in the annals of comedy greats is his anthropological approach to humor, inspired by his life as a child of Italian immigrants living in Australia. One of the first ethnic comedians, Avati’s routine about growing up with a culturally diverse background propelled him to fame in Australia, and then on the world stage, as evidenced by his sold-out tours across his homeland, the UK, and North America. In 2014 he was nominated for Comedian of the Year, and he has been given rave reviews by the world’s biggest media outlets. In addition to his comedy routine, Avati is also a shrewd comedy producer and has been called “pure comic genius” for his successful productions, his prolific comedic output, and his marketing savvy.
For more information, high-resolution photography, or to book an interview with Joe Avati, please contact Sasha Stoltz Publicity at 416-579.4804 Email: email@example.com
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