The Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities (ACSRC) is proud to be a principal researcher of the ECHO Network (Environment, Community, Health Observatory). This national research project lead by UNBC's Dr. Margot Parkes addresses health, environment and community impact of resource development, with specific emphasis on rural, remote and Indigenous communities. Dr. Lars Hallstrom, director of the ACSRC, will work with a regional team that includes key partner Battle River Watershed Alliance, based out of Camrose, Alberta.
Responding to the health impacts of resource development requires thorough observation and nuanced analysis of the interrelated socioeconomic, ecological, cultural, and political pathways that influence health in regions in which communities and resource development operations coexist. Indeed, the cumulative community, health, and environmental impacts of resource development remain contentious and poorly understood issues in resource-rich regions, especially rural, remote and Indigenous communities. Through utilizing a public health observatory approach, the ECHO Network project aims to develop more integrative tools and processes to understand and respond to the cumulative determinants of health impacts. By integrating different kinds of information, strengthening capacity, and building cross-jurisdictional relationships, this approach can inform intersectoral actions that address the health impacts of resource development.
This project will be undertaken in collaboration with researchers, practitioners, policy- and decision-makers, community organizations, health service agencies, and First Nations organizations from across Canada, including UNBC researchers, who share a commitment to producing actionable research that responds to, and is driven by, unique community contexts and concerns. As such, the ECHO Network will be anchored in four regional cases actively grappling with the health impacts of resource development, including the New Brunswick Children, Environment and Health Collaborative, Alberta’s Battle River Watershed Alliance, BC’s First Nations Health Authority, and BC’s Northern Health Authority. The project is funded through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research will $2 million from 2017 and 2021. The project was officially launched on May 11, 2017, in Prince George, British Columbia.
ECHO Network in the media:
Official Press Release
University of Alberta, Augustana Campus Article
Additional project resources:
ECHO Network Webpage
Battle River Watershed Regional Case