The Canadian Geographer Accepts Paper for Publication

Heather Castleden, along with co-authors, Valorie Crooks (Simon Fraser University) and Ilja van Meerveld (VU University Amsterdam) have just had the following paper accepted for publication in The Canadian Geographer, it will be available online soon:

`Examining the public health implications of drinking water-related behaviours and perceptions: A face-to-face exploratory survey of residents in eight coastal communities in British Columbia and Nova Scotia

In Canada the quality of drinking water and its availability are a reflection of where one lives. Coastal communities, which are particularly susceptible to boil water advisories, present an understudied opportunity to understand drinking water-related behaviours and perceptions. How public health practitioners determine actions needed to prevent water-borne illness is a key factor in the public adopting messaging and/or employing behavioural change. This study involved face-to-face surveys with residents in eight coastal communities in British Columbia and Nova Scotia. All communities had recent histories of boil water advisories and/or water shortages. The findings have significant implications for public health practice seeking to reduce the incidence of water-borne diseases. For example, the respondents had a limited sense of risk of exposure to water-borne illness. This serves as a challenge for public health professionals who are tasked with educating residents about the health benefits and risks associated with drinking tap water, wherein coastal residents not concerned with water quality/availability may view this information as unnecessary. Generally, obtaining a deep understanding of place-based knowledge around health-related issues, as done here, has the potential to impact future policy and management-level decisions and lead to meaningful integration of local perspectives.

Knowledge Integration Project Produces Water Gathering Report

Heather Castleden’s Knowledge Integration Project on Indigenous and Western Knowledge for Water Management in Canada (funded by the Canadian Water Network) has produced a report on its recent national Water Gathering held June 3rd and 4th in Ottawa, Ontario, Traditional Territories of the Algonquin Peoples. The Gathering brought together over 40 Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, experts and traditional knowledge-holders from across Canada to share their stories and experiences with water, and to hep determine means of assessing/evaluating past water resource management research and practice that has included (or attempted to include) Indigenous knowledges or methodologies from multiple perspectives. You can find the report here.

Thank You Emily!

Emily profile pic-1After two and a half years as the HEC Lab’s Managing Director, Emily Skinner is moving on to pursue a new opportunity in Edmonton, Alberta.

Emily has served as the “brains of the lab”, often juggling multiple, overlapping files. She has been a constant source of support for other staff members as well as students.

Catherine Hart takes over as the HEC Lab’s new Research Assoicate and Project Manager.

On behalf of everyone in the lab, we would like to wish Emily all the best!

Upcoming Presentations

Heather- PresentationAugust

  • August 11-15: Heather Castleden @ EcoHealth Conference. Montreal QC
  • August 11-15: Vanessa Sloan Morgan @ EcoHealth Conference. Montreal QC


  • October 5-10: Heather Castleden @ International Network in Indigenous Health Knowledge and Development/Manitoba Network Environment for Aboriginal Health Research Coference.  Winnipeg MB

APTN features story on Boat Harbour

Boat Harbour near Pictou Landing
Boat Harbour near Pictou Landing

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) ran a three part news story in late March on the health effects of Boat Harbour near Pictou Landing First Nation. Boat Harbour is the site of a toxic waste pond used by a nearby paper mill. The stories highlight recent events in the decades long stuggle to clean up Boat Harbour.

The stories can be viewed here:

Part 1: NS First Nation to decide if it will pursue its lawsuit to clean up harbour (external link)

Part 2: Pictou Landing researches health effects of polluted harbor (external link)

Part 3: Nova Scotia band looks at options to deal with polluted harbour (external link)


A BIG change is coming to the HEC Lab

Castleden B&W Head ShotHEC Lab Director Dr. Heather Castleden is joining the Departments of Geography and Public Health Sciences at Queen’s University.

Dr. Castleden obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree (Anthropology and Native Studies) from the University of Manitoba (1996), a Master of Education Degree (Adult and Higher Education) from the University of Alberta, and a PhD (Health and Environmental Geography) at the University of Alberta. Before taking up her appointment at Dalhousie University, she was a NEARBC and SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Victoria.

Dr. Castleden is a CIHR New Investigator in the area of Knowledge Translation (2013-2018); in addition to this prestigious award, she has received a number of other awards including the Canadian Association of Geographers’ Julian M. Szeicz Award (2010), which is presented annually in recognition of significant research achievement by a Canadian Geographer at an early career stage, specifically in recognition of her contribution to the geography of environment, health and Indigenous community-based participatory research.


The HEC Lab is now on Twitter!

After long and insightful discussions, and an interesting series of discussions it’s been, we’ve finally given in to Twitter!Twitter_logo_blue

At our past reserach group meeting, HEC Lab students and staff talked about the merits and the challenges of using social media as a way of sharing and communicating research activities. And, with some input from HEC Lab alumni Brittany White, we decided to give it a go.

You can follow us here: @fortheHECofit

Community Health & Epidemiology Seminar Series Presentation

Integrating Indigenous and Western Scientific Approaches in Community-Based Participatory Research to Reduce the Health Inequities of Indigenous Peoples in Canada

Presenter: Heather Castleden, Phd (Associate Professor and CIHR New Investigator
School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University)

View Heather’s Biography

Date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 12:30pm

Location: Centre for Clinical Research, CH&E Classroom #409, 5790 University Avenue

Contact: Jodi Lawrence:, 494-3860

Synopsis: Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is generally understood as a philosophical and methodological approach to engaging in relevant, respectful, responsible, and reciprocal research relationships between researchers and those they research. Rather than a one-sided relationship where the researcher holds the decision-making power about the research design, the data collection, the interpretation of the data, and when/how results are disseminated, community-based-participatory research involves shared decision-making, shared ownership of data, bi-directional research capacity building, and when new knowledge is co-created, it is disseminated in a manner that is mutually beneficial for all those involved. This approach to research involving Indigenous peoples is gaining traction in light of the legacy of unethical research and the ongoing colonial tensions between Indigenous and settler populations in Canada. What’s more, using Indigenous and western scientific approaches in CBPR provides a comprehensive understanding of health inequities from Indigenous perspectives and experiences, rather than focusing on just biomedical pathology and dysfunction. In this seminar, I will elaborate on the “how” and “why” of CBPR involving Indigenous peoples, providing examples from two studies that have employed this integrated approach.

Film Screening: “Climate Change in Atlantic Canada”

David Suzuki - Climate Change and Energy in Atlantic Canada

Join the HEC Lab for the movie premiere of “Climate Change in Atlantic Canada”

A Fundraising Event For Local Environmental Groups, with Dr. David Suzuki

A compelling documentary on the impacts of climate change in Atlantic communities.

Followed by a panel discussion with Dr. David Suzuki, researcher and filmmaker Dr. Ian Mauro, and local and national experts.


When: Friday, November 22: 7pm-9:30 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m

Where: Spatz Theatre: 1855 Trollope Street, Halifax NS

$22 – Buy your tickets online at


All funds generated from this event will be donated to the Ecology Action Centre.

Click here to view the event poster.

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