Monday, October 31, 2011

BCHC Newsletter - October 2011


Youth Leadership and Action Summit - New Date: November 25 & 26, 2011

The City of Victoria Youth Council (CVYC) has picked a new date for the Youth Leadership Action Summit at the Victoria City Hall, the summit is now being held on November 25 & 26. The Summit is an exciting opportunity for youth where they can hear presentations on key issues affecting youth in our community and gain new skills in working together as a team, planning social change projects, making decisions as a group and to participate in hands-on workshops where youth will learn about using music, video, graphic, and other media to communicate their message. For more information about how to sign up for the summit please contact Sarah Amyot at

Report “Just scratching the surface”: Mental health promotion for Punjabi seniors (Forums)

In 2009, BC Healthy Communities joined the Immigrant Older Adults—Care Accessibility Research Empowerment (iCARE) team. In 2010, this group secured Community Action Initiative funding to explore the extent to which community services targeted at Punjabi seniors in Abbotsford and Surrey address the social determinants of mental health, as identified by Keleher and Armstrong:
  • social inclusion
  • freedom from violence and discrimination
  • and access to economic resources support
In October iCARE presented its findings in a document which summarizes findings from two forums (held in April and May, 2011) that aimed to address the outlined goal. Forum participants were Punjabi older adults and service provider representatives identified as addressing at least one of the social determinants of mental health for Punjabi older adults and their families in each of the two identified communities. Read the full report here


At the Intersection of Health and Climate Change
by Kerri Klein

Across British Columbia, communities are acknowledging that public health and the health of the planet are closely interrelated. While the interconnections between health and sustainability are increasingly being documented in the public health literature, all too often there are missed opportunities to explicitly integrate human health and environmental outcomes. According to Poland and Dooris (2010) “work on sustainability and work on health have tended to happen in parallel rather than as integrated efforts.”

In Canada, two critical areas have catalyzed the potential for urgent and integrated action on human and environmental health: chronic disease and climate change.

Climate Change
According to the World Health Organization, climate change is one of the most serious public health issues of our time. Direct and indirect health, economic and social impacts of climate change are predicted to be substantial and hit the most marginalized and vulnerable populations the hardest (Agyeman & Evans, 2004). Taking climate science seriously implies significant transformations of the built environment, transportation habits, energy sources, food sources and local economic development within one generation.

Chronic Disease
In Canada today, more than nine million people suffer from some form of chronic disease with the potential for this number to increase as populations age (HCC, 2007). More than ever before policy makers are looking at the rising rates of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease and calling for approaches that focus on prevention. With attention on multiple determinants of health, there are strong interconnections between health and lifestyle, income, equity, the built environment and social engagement, to name a few. From a healthy communities perspective, addressing chronic disease requires a ‘joined-up’ approach that can account for and address multiple determinants of health more effectively.

At the Intersection of Health and Climate Change
While the Healthy Communities approach has always recognized healthy environments and ecosystems as important determinants of health, there is a need to examine the emerging opportunity and potential value of encouraging joined-up thinking and integrated action between health and climate change responses, specifically at the local level. We already know that there are natural co-benefits for public health from climate change mitigation and adaptation, especially in relation to key issues such as transportation, food and air quality. However, much less work has been done to look for shared solutions, approaches and practices to collectively address difficult social policy problems inherent in chronic disease and climate change. While health-oriented programs may include an environmental component and climate change programs may contain a healthy living component, the kind of hoped-for synergistic collaboration between sectors of health and environmental sustainability have yet to be realized (Poland & Dooris, 2010).

BC Healthy Communities is interested in supporting more integrated approaches between health and climate change. We recently published a paper on six ways more integrated action can be taken. You can find this report on the BCHC webpage for Climate Change: Building Shared Leadership for Climate Action .For more information about Health and Climate Change please contact

Poland, B. & Dooris, M. (2010). A green and healthy future: the settings approach to building health, equity and sustainability. Critical Public Health, 20(3), 281-298. doi: 10.1080/09581596.2010.502931

Health Council of Canada. (2007). Schémas de population- Maladies chroniques au Canada:
Supplément de données à Importance du renouvellement des soins de santé: à l'écoute des canadiens atteints de maladies chroniques. Toronto: Retrieved from


Community Tables: Engaging Neighbours in Victoria!

Community Tables: Engaging Neighbours is a new regional initiative of the United Way of Greater Victoria (UWGV), BC Healthy Communities (BCHC) and the Office of Community-Based Research-University of Victoria (OCBR) that focuses on building healthy, resilient neighbourhoods and mobilizing community assets to address some of Greater Victoria's most pressing issues. This year, Neighbourhood Tables are being piloted in the Victoria communities of North Park, Tillicum and Oaklands.

On October 27th The Community Tables Project Launch Event kicked off with an inspiring neighbour power workshop with neighbourhood & community development leader Jim Diers. Diers explained how neighbours can generate tremendous power in shaping their communities and emphasized how important the 'fun' factor is when mobilizing neigbours to create change.

The Neighbourhood Tables will be held monthly until March 2012 at a community location in each neighbourhood and are open to people from all backgrounds, walks of life and age groups. For more information please contact Stacy Barter at


Sylvia MacLeay, Age Friendly Champion

Ms. Sylvia MacLeay retir
ed after working for 38 years as a biology-chemistry teacher and provincial examination setter, Director of Human Resources, and Assistant Director of Bargaining and Contract Enforcement for the BC Teachers’ Federation. Now a past President of the BCRTA, she has focused on volunteering in the area of welfare for seniors. Currently Sylvia is First Vice-President of the Council of Senior Citizens' Organizations (COSCO), a Director of the BC Retired Teachers Association, and a member of the Steering Committee of the BC Health Coalition. On a personal note, Sylvia is a long time sailor with the West Vancouver Yacht Club and President of the Vancouver Dixieland Jazz Society. Her 5 adult children, their spouses, and her 5 grand children are the light of her life.

Youth Councils: A Model for Citizenship in Practice
by Emily Cordeaux

“Young people learn at least as much about democracy and citizenship – including their own citizenship – through their participation in the range of different practices that make up their lives, as they learn from that which is officially prescribed and formally taught” (Biesta, 2011, pg. 14).

On Sunday, October 23rd the 2011/2012 City of Victoria Youth Council (CVYC) met for the first time to welcome 21 new and 6 returning members for the upcoming year. New CVYC members are joining us from schools and communities throughout Greater Victoria, all with unique experiences and interests to contribute. The orientation on Sunday served as a kicking off point for members to meet and discuss past CVYC projects, as well as define the direction of the new CVYC.

The CVYC provides rich opportunities for youth in Greater Victoria to be active at the community level and to be heard at City Council. Youth councils, such as the CVYC, create ‘real life’ opportunities for young people to learn about and contribute to civic life in community and provide a safe space in which young people can grow and take on new citizenship responsibilities. Through our support to the CVYC and other youth groups, we seek to support youth people in leadership and development opportunities that contribute to a sense of personal agency and a collective sense of belonging to their community.

Many of the new members applied to the CVYC with the hopes of working with like-minded youth on projects that they are most passionate about. The CVYC’s ability to attract youth of different ages, backgrounds and of different levels of familiarity with local government is what makes the CVYC such a dynamic group. At the orientation, CVYC members, old and new, had opportunities to share their skills and consider ways of building on the strengths of all members.

At the orientation Victoria City Councillor Philippe Lucas spoke to the importance of youth engagement initiatives such as the CVYC in contributing to the development of holistic and just communities. Engaging youth in discussions about community planning and priorities is more important than ever as local governments find themselves tasked with evermore complex policy and service delivery responsibilities. Youth provide an important perspective to these discussions that may otherwise be absent- for example, when the CVYC co-organised a number of ‘Community Cafes for Youth’ with City officials as part of the Official Community Plan development we learned an immense amount about the unique ways young people experience the city. It has been our experience that the youth council model is an excellent way to bring together many key elements of meaningful youth engagement by: linking youth’s individual, short-term goals with collective action and community change, institutionalizing the practice of youth involvement in civic and community planning and decision making, and creating space for youth-led action projects.

Part of the success of the CVYC lies in the support it receives from community members. Community members provide much needed support to the CVYC and are instrumental in helping ensure that CVYC initiatives are well received and publicized within the community. No youth council is an island and the CVYC would not be what it is without the tremendous support it receives from the City of Victoria & community partners.

The CVYC has exciting projects on the horizon and is looking forward to the year ahead. New members’ bios will be listed on the CVYC website within the next week. Be sure to check them out at If you are interested in learning more about creating or supporting a youth council in your community, please contact us at

Reference: Learning Democracy in School and Society - Education, Lifelong Learning and the Politics of Citizenship. Gert J.J. Biesta.


Webinars ~ Northern BC Citizens Series on Health Webinars
BCHC and Northern Health's Population Health Team have partnered to host a series of free web-based seminars on the role of citizens in building healthy communities. The webinars invite dialogue from northern communities on specific topics that are critical to improving the health outcomes of northern people.

Jan. 19, 2012 - 1:30 - 3:30pm
"Beginning With the End in Mind: Creating Safe and Nurturing Environments for Our Very Young"
April 19, 2012 - 1:30 - 3:30pm
"Beyond the Nest Egg: Feathering the Nest for Healthy Retirement"
For more information or to REGISTER click here

Youth Summit ~ My City, My Community, My Life
What: Youth Leadership and Action Summit
When: November 25th & 26th 2011
Where: Victoria City Hall
For more information click here

Summit ~ Cities fit for Children
What: 3rd Annual Provincial Summit
When: Thursday, May 10 to Friday, May 11 2012
Where: Kamloops, BC
For more information click here


Neighbor Power: Building Community The Seattle Way
Author: Jim Diers

In Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way, Diers chronicles how the Department of Neighborhoods has involved tens of thousands of neighbors in the development of scores of community-driven plans and 3,000 neighborhood self-help projects. The book not only gives hope that participatory democracy is possible, but it offers practical applications and invaluable lessons for ordinary, caring neighbors who want to make a difference. It also provides government officials with inspiring stories and proven programs to help them embrace neighbourhood activists as true partners.

Jim Diers has a passion for building neighbour power. Since moving to Seattle in 1976, he put that passion to work for an Alinsky-style community organization, a health care cooperative, and a community development corporation. Diers served under three mayors over 14 years as the department grew to become a national model for planning and development powered by neighbors. Read more here

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