Contaminants in the Northern Environment

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada's (CIRNAC) Northern Contaminants Program is working to reduce and, wherever possible, eliminate contaminants from sources in traditional foods, while providing information that will help people and communities make informed decisions.

What is the Northern Contaminants Program?

The Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) was established in 1991 in response to concerns about human exposure to elevated levels of contaminants in wildlife species that are important to the traditional diets of northern Aboriginal peoples. Early studies found a wide variety of substances, many of which had no arctic or Canadian sources, but which were, nevertheless, reaching unexpectedly high levels in the arctic ecosystem.

Each year, NCP researchers test various traditional foods in order to determine contaminant level trends. This research is a very important part of the Contaminants and Remediation Division Program as it is the primary research used to determine community diets and potential impacts caused by contaminants at a site.

The NCP is represented in the Northwest Territories by a regional committee called the Northwest Territories Regional Contaminants Committee. The committee develops and coordinates research priorities for the NWT and its membership includes Indigenous organizations, government departments and health boards. It provides information to the public about the presence and possible effects of contaminants and, in association with the Government of the NWT - Department of Health. Information is also provided to the public on the risks and benefits of consuming traditional foods.

The NCP allocates funds for research and related activities in five main areas:

For results or additional information, please contact the CIRNAC NWT Region NCP representative at 867-669-2665.

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