On May 2nd, 2016, sixty delegates representing local governments, the health sector, First Nations, and community groups gathered in the City of Dawson Creek for the Northern Region Healthy Communities Forum. This forum is the fourth in a series of five forums taking place in each health authority region to take stock of: the impacts of collaborative efforts between local governments, health authorities, and other community partners; the key factors that are enabling this success; and how we can grow this impact moving forward.
The forum began with a welcome from Jeannette Touch from Aboriginal Family Services and opening remarks from the Mayor of Dawson Creek, Dale Bumsted and Northern Health Board Member; Maurice Squires.
Squires framed the day by talking about how healthy communities provide the conditions for communities to grow and for residents to thrive now and in the future. He shared that there are 22 healthier communities committees in the north that have focused on a range of priorities from physical activity, seniors health, youth at risk, men’s health, food security and healthy eating.
Next, Dr. Sandra Allison, Chief Medical Health Officer of Northern Health, gave an overview of challenges specific to northern communities and urged that underlying causes and risk factors for illness need to be addressed. She also highlighted that Northern Health has had long standing partnerships with local governments starting in 2008 which have been supported by communication, capacity building, and developing tools and resources.
“Communities are the context for health – not health facilities.”— Dr. Sandra Allison, Chief Medical Health Officer of Northern Health
Committed to building healthier communities, Dr. Allison also announced that “Healthy People in Healthy Communities” is a priority in Northern Health’s new strategic plan. She emphasized that, “communities are the context for health – not health facilities”.
Next, healthy communities partnership panelists Mayor Bumstead, Iboyla Agoston (Fort St. John Healthy Living Alliance and Northern Health Co-Chair), and Councillor Joan Atkinson (District of Mackenzie) shared lessons learned and key factors for generating impact in their communities.
After lunch, a second panel took place with reflections from Michael Milia, Northern Health, Health Services Administrator, West Cluster; Councellor Dawn Potvin, District of Houston; and Chris Simms, Northern Health, Health Services Adminstrator.
Common themes from each of the stories included the importance of communication, public engagement, volunteers and community champions, and how funding has enabled much of their work.
Next, participants had the chance to jump into discussion at table sessions on the topics of: healthy aging, active communities, mental wellness, child health and wellness, industrial resource development, food security, and drinking water.
Theresa Healy, from Northern Health, had graphically recorded the dialogue throughout the day and gave a summary of the key themes that she heard which included:
- Intelligence, passion and leadership were represented at the forum.
- Factors that are enabling impact are education, engagement, communication, inclusivity, and fun.
- Capacity building, more partnerships, sharing of knowledge, communication, and evaluation will help grow impact.
Dr. Allison wrapped up the event. Allison felt proud of the strength she saw in communities and community leaders in the northern health region. She emphasized that the people were at the forum shared a common agenda and noted the supports that Northern Health and PlanH to help move our collective priorities forward.
This forum took place in collaboration with the North Central Local Government Association 2016 Convention.
- BC Healthy Communities presentation
- Keynote Address – Dr. Sandra Allison, Chief Medical Health Officer, Northern Health
- Smoking Regulation Bylaw in the City of Dawson Creek – Mayor Bumstead
- Fort St. John – Ibolya Agoston
- District of Mackenzie – Joan Atkinson
- Houston ACT Committee – Dawn Potvin
- Atlin, Stewart & Terrace – Chris Simms
Get the story behind this graphic recording by Theresa Healy in the social media recap of the day with the Storify summary of Tweets here.