“We need to make the link between indigenous culture and climate stabilization. And we need to do that now.”

That was Eriel Tchekwie Deranger’s message to the thousands of public health practitioners who attended last year’s APHA Annual Meeting and Expo in Atlanta, which had a theme of “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health.” Deranger made her call to action during a one-on-one interview with APHA TV, building on her powerful and eye-opening keynote speech during the meeting’s Opening Session.

Deranger, a founding member and executive director of Indigenous Climate Action, was among a number of climate advocates and leaders who sat down with APHA TV in Atlanta. A member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Deranger and her community of Fort Chipewyan in northern Alberta, Canada, are already experiencing the harmful effects of climate change and of the industries driving that change. Northern Alberta, Deranger said, is now home to the world’s largest industrial project and the second largest recoverable oil reserve on the planet — the Alberta tar sands. The tar sand project is also Canada’s single-largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions.

“In my community, we’re dealing with the imposition of not just industrialization of our territory, but (it’s being) compounded by global climate change,” Deranger told APHA TV.

Such industrialization is already having a negative impact on the region’s waterways and wildlife, disrupting the lives and livelihoods of indigenous people, she said. For example, because Fort Chipewyan is a remote, fly-in community, many of its residents subsidize their cost of living with hunting and fishing. But as climate change and industry make it harder to maintain traditional ways of surviving, residents are increasingly forced to rely on the community’s one grocery store, where healthy food options are often too expensive to afford. A result of such changes, Deranger said, is increases in diabetes, autoimmune disease and cancer.

“It’s like a double whammy,” she told APHA TV. “Both climate change and the drivers of climate change are impacting the health and survival — the cultural survival — of communities in northern Alberta.”

Watch Deranger’s full interview for her thoughts on why and how public health workers should be working with indigenous communities to fight climate change. As she told APHA TV: “We need to absolutely start looking at how we can phase out of dirty fossil fuels.”

Visit APHA TV to watch all the episodes from Atlanta.

For more video from APHA 2017, register for APHA Live. APHA Live includes on-demand, online access to 13 of the top sessions from the APHA Annual Meeting and the opportunity to earn more than 16 free continuing education credits. For even more educational programming from APHA 2017, consider RAMP, which includes synced PowerPoint presentations and voice recording of scientific sessions from the Atlanta meeting.