First Nations people are living in environments that have a negative impact on health. First Nations living conditions were ranked 63rd, amongst “Third World” conditions in a study conducted by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada where First Nations-specifi c statistics were applied to the United Nations Human Development Index (INAC 1998). First Nations people are more likely than any other subgroup of the Canadian population, to be at higher risk of exposure to environmental contaminants through the inhalation of air, oral ingestion of water and dermal contacts with soil as a result of industrial activities such as mining, hydroelectric and forestry projects, chemical and solid waste mismanagement, near and within their communities. In addition First Nations live in over-crowded dwellings, contaminated with mould, and are often not equipped with sewage services, adequate insulation or ventilation and are in need of signifi cant household repairs (NAHO 2003; Offi ce of the Auditor General 2003; NAHO 2004). Housing density for First Nations people is twice that of the general population, nearly one in four First Nations adults live in crowded homes. Approximately 4,000 First Nations people live in 89,000 overcrowded, substandard and rapidly deteriorating housing units, half of the existing housing units in communities require renovations, almost 6000 of the 88,485 houses on First Nations communities are without sewage service, half of the First Nations households are contaminated with mould and core capital funding to support housing has remained unchanged for 20 yr (NAHO 2003; Offi ce of the Auditor General 2003; NAHO 2004). The third world conditions reported in many First Nations communities across Canada could certainly contribute to and exacerbate health impacts related to climate changes. Furthermore the current living conditions reported in
these communities clearly demonstrates the vulnerability of First Nations people to prepare and adapt to any associated impacts of environmental degradation and climatic changes. In situations where housing conditions are already deteriorated, any extreme weather event or increase in intensity and duration of a weather events will only further deteriorate and lend to poorer living conditions and community infrastructure. For example the deterioration of a nursing station in one First Nation community in Canada is an example of how climatic changes such as heavy rains leading to perennial fl ooding can impact the health of and health service delivery to First Nations people.