Healthy Living in the North

Choose your path and volunteer for the Canada Winter Games

Members of the Games' medical staff

Members of the Games’ medical staff (from left to right): Hedy Conwright, Venue Medical Lead; Joanne Archer, Chief Nurse; Janet Ames, Chief Medical Officer; Brian Farrance, Chief Therapist; Carolyn Bouchard, Polyclinic Lead

“Choose your path, leave your tracks and journey with us.” This motto for the 2015 Canada Winter Games calls all northerners to share their skills and passion in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host the nation. At the Canada Games House in Prince George we are acutely aware of the countdown clock, which reminds us that we are just 12 months away from the largest multi-sport and cultural festival ever held in northern British Columbia!

What I was surprised to learn when I started working for the 2015 Games is that this Canada Games is volunteer led. From sport to transportation and everything in between, volunteers are working hard in each department of the 2015 Games.

Medical volunteers have the opportunity to help plan medical services, as well as deliver medical services to athletes at sport venues and the athlete medical clinic, the Polyclinic, at 2015 Games time. Physicians, therapists, and nurses from across the north are needed to provide these important services. Offering bilingual services is part of our mandate so there are also opportunities for bilingual medical volunteers to get involved in the 2015 Games.

Dr. Janet Ames, Chief Medical Officer with the Games, explains some of the worries she comes across when recruiting medical volunteers: “Medical professionals are often concerned about volunteering for events such as the Canada Winter Games. They express concern about not having the experience to handle sport medicine problems and may lack in field experience. Many of the problems at major games are ones they see in their own practices every day, especially the problems assessed at the Polyclinic.”

Volunteering at the 2015 Games offers medical volunteers an incredible opportunity to develop event coverage skills and to learn from the best. Dr. Ames, who has worked at past Canada Games and Olympics explains: “In terms of event coverage, if medical personnel want to gain experience we will place them in the field with more experienced first responders. There are physicians and therapists coming to the Games from all over Canada who have a great deal of experience on the field. Canada Games has always been a great place to learn new skills from those with more experience.”

Not only does working as a medical volunteer offer the opportunity to be a part of the 2015 Games, but the skills learned will create a legacy for medical event coverage in our region. The Canada Games medical committee recognizes these amazing opportunities and encourages northern doctors, therapists and nurses to join them now for 2015.

We hope you will choose your path, leave your tracks and join us in this journey as we host the nation from February 13 to March 1, 2015.

For more information on volunteering for medical and non-medical opportunities, visit the 2015 Canada Winter Games volunteer sign-up page.

Julia Stephenson

About Julia Stephenson

Julia is a master’s of public health graduate working with the 2015 Canada Winter Games. She is passionate about upstream health and creating environments that support well-being. Julia grew up in Ontario, but feels at home in B.C., and is embracing the move north with all the opportunities for outdoor activity. She enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing, swimming, and being outside exploring new places.

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Next week is Bike to Work Week

Bike to Work Week

Next week is Bike to Work Week… will you ride your bike to work?

Next week, May 27-31 is Bike to Work Week in Canada, and I’m so impressed at how many great events are taking place around the Northern Health region!

For example, in Terrace on Monday, residents are encouraged to be at City Hall at 6:30a.m. for a half hour “critical mass” style community bike ride around downtown. What a great way to kick things off and be motivated for the rest of the week! And Prince George’s BTWW gets kicked off with a free to-go breakfast at their City Hall on Monday.

The Bike to Work Week website offers a full schedule of participating communities – check it out and see what’s going on in yours! Will you riding your bike to work next week?

Jessica Quinn

About Jessica Quinn

Jessica Quinn is regional manager, health promotion and community engagement for Northern Health, where she is actively involved in promoting the great work of NH staff to encourage healthy and active lifestyles. She also manages NH's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc) and moderates all comments for the NH blog. When she's not working, Jessica stays active by exploring the beautiful outdoors around Prince George via kayak, hiking boots or snowshoes, and she has recently completed her master's degree in professional communications from Royal Roads University, with a focus on the use of social media in health care.

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A focus on our people: All Native Basketball Tournament

Northern Health participated in the 54th annual All Native Basketball Tournament last month by setting up general health screenings, mental health screenings, and  information booths for aboriginal health, the STOP (seek and treat for optimal  prevention) HIV/AIDS program, environmental health, and more.

In this edition of her CEO video blog, Cathy Ulrich explores Northern Health’s involvement at the tournament. Cathy speaks with Angela Szabo, Home and Community Care Manager for the northwest, and Bill Wesley, a participant in the health screenings at the event.

Cathy Ulrich

About Cathy Ulrich

Cathy became NH president and chief executive officer in 2007, following five years as vice president, clinical services and chief nursing officer for Northern Health. Before the formation of Northern Health, she worked in a variety of nursing and management positions in Northern B.C., Manitoba, and Alberta. Most of her career has been in rural and northern communities where she has gained a solid understanding of the unique health needs of rural communities. Cathy has a nursing degree from the University of Alberta, a master’s degree in community health sciences from the University of Northern BC, and is still actively engaged in health services research, teaching and graduate student support.

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Aboriginal Day in Terrace: Fun for all ages

Brandon and Agnes at the Aboriginal Day celebrations in Terrace

Brandon Grant, NH Men’s Health Coordinator, stands with two gentlemen who stopped by and received Northern BC Man Challenge t-shirts, and Agnes Snow, Regional Director of Aboriginal Health, at the Aboriginal Day celebrations in Terrace, BC.

On June 23, I had the opportunity to participate in the National Aboriginal Day celebrations in Terrace, along with Agnes Snow, Regional Director of Aboriginal Health. The event was in the downtown park in Terrace, where people were able to purchase food, jewelry, and art at display booths surrounding the grass and a stage featuring live entertainment from local dancers and singers happened all day.

I was manning an informational booth for the NH men’s health program, where we handed out men’s health reports and our other promotional materials, such as our Northern BC Man Challenge t-shirt and golf balls. We had a lot of folks drop by our booth to check out our materials but also to talk about their stories, and what good health meant to them. One gentleman who was visiting from an outside community stopped by and chatted about how hard it was to talk to men about their health and the small things we can all do to improve our health outcomes. This has been a common theme throughout the past year of the program – what can we do to reach men who traditionally have a hard time speaking about their health challenges? We’re hoping that as we engage with more folks like this, we will create a momentum that will make men’s health part of a broader agenda for healthier communities.

It was great to be a part of an event where people of all ages came out to enjoy the beautiful weather, food, activities, and entertainment. I’m hoping to travel to more communities soon, especially the ones where folks who stopped by our booth and requested men’s health presentations came from. And hopefully I will be back to the Aboriginal Day celebrations in Terrace again next year!

Do you have men’s health story? Please share it with us!

Brandon Grant

About Brandon Grant

As the NH men’s health coordinator, Brandon Grant travels across the Northern Health region speaking with community members about the health issues men face and what we can do to improve men’s health. He has worked with a variety of community-based organizations, including the Nawican Friendship Centre and the Northern Family Health Society, and holds two master’s degrees, one in social work and one in public administration. To stay active, Brandon enjoys playing golf and tennis, and whenever possible, visits tropical destinations to go snorkeling.

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Salmon Run 2012: Bowering still winning races after March MANness Competition

Agnes Snow and Dr. David Bowering participated in the Salmon Run.

Agnes Snow, NH director of Aboriginal health, and Dr. David Bowering, medical health officer for the northwest, both participated in the Salmon Run and received medals.

Kitsumkalum hosts the Salmon Run every year, and this year’s was a great success with nearly 400 participants from across the north competing in an elders’ walk, 5k, and 10k distance runs.

I attended this year’s event, held on June 24, to hold down the men’s health booth so I could share information on living a healthy life with the area’s male population and the women who love them. Some of my colleagues were also at the event hosting booths on the topics of quitting smoking and nutrition.

A few staff members from Northern Health also competed in the race, with some even winning medals! Dr. David Bowering, northwest medical health officer, won the gold medal in the male 5km category, with a time of 28:56, proving that his controversial win in the March MANness Competition was no fluke! Director of Aboriginal Health Agnes Snow also participated, winning the silver medal in the female elders’ walk. Great work!

Even I participated in the run, but was far behind in the middle of the pack.

The spirit and energy at the 2012 Salmon Run was fantastic, and a great example of people of all ages coming together to promote healthier lifestyles. Congratulations to the event organizers for promoting wellness to the community and making northern health matter!

Brandon Grant

About Brandon Grant

As the NH men’s health coordinator, Brandon Grant travels across the Northern Health region speaking with community members about the health issues men face and what we can do to improve men’s health. He has worked with a variety of community-based organizations, including the Nawican Friendship Centre and the Northern Family Health Society, and holds two master’s degrees, one in social work and one in public administration. To stay active, Brandon enjoys playing golf and tennis, and whenever possible, visits tropical destinations to go snorkeling.

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Men’s health event and screening in McBride was a huge success!

McBride Pioneer Days

The NH team promoting men’s health. L-R: Brandon Grant, Mike Benusic, Sheila Anderson, Roxanne Coates and Susanna Gasser.

On June 17th, I was able to participate in a great event held during the McBride Pioneer Days Pancake Breakfast at the Elk’s Hall. I was there to promote men’s health, along with other Northern Health staff who conducted blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol checks for men who came in for breakfast. We also had an information booth with a variety of health resources for residents.

As with most of our events across the region, the men we saw really stepped up and took on the challenge to learn more about their health, with over 30 participants lining up to get checked. As I spoke with some of the folks at the Elk’s Hall, it reminded me of the importance of the work we are doing to raise the spotlight on men’s health. The men and women who came by shared stories about their own health issues and real-life examples that have showed them how important it is to reach men at all stages of life, but especially when they’re young.

The best part about my job is visiting all the communities in our vast region, speaking with people about what good health means to them, and what we can do as a community and health authority to raise awareness about health issues of men living in the north. The work continues, but with the help of our committed Northern Health staff and our community partners, we can make men’s health better for all that call the north home. Thanks to the great folks that helped make this event possible!

Brandon Grant

About Brandon Grant

As the NH men’s health coordinator, Brandon Grant travels across the Northern Health region speaking with community members about the health issues men face and what we can do to improve men’s health. He has worked with a variety of community-based organizations, including the Nawican Friendship Centre and the Northern Family Health Society, and holds two master’s degrees, one in social work and one in public administration. To stay active, Brandon enjoys playing golf and tennis, and whenever possible, visits tropical destinations to go snorkeling.

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National Aboriginal Day: A celebration of family and culture

June 21 was National Aboriginal Day – a day for Northern Aboriginal groups to come together and celebrate their culture and achievements.

NH reps at Aboriginal Day

L-R: Julia Stephenson, Joan Greenlees and Laura Johnston were three of the NH representatives talking to people about health and wellness at the Aboriginal Day celebrations.

Fort George Park, the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, was the site of celebrations in Prince George this year, and I dropped by in the morning to visit the folks at the Northern Health booth and catch the opening remarks. It was 10:30a.m. but already the sun was hot and there was a crowd milling about the local organizations’ booths (I saw Canadian Red Cross, UNBC, and the Northern BC First Nations HIV/AIDS Coalition, to name a few), and food and craft vendors.

I was welcomed at the Northern Health booth by Laura Johnston, a tobacco reduction coordinator from Population Health; Joan Greenlees, executive assistant for Northern Cancer Control Strategy and Aboriginal Health; and Julia Stephenson, an SFU practicum student working on her master’s degree in Public Health, who were all there to share information about NH public health and population health services, like healthy eating and quitting smoking.

“It’s good to have so many groups come together,” said Stephenson, who was happy to be helping Northern Health share health and wellness information with the public at the event. “The Aboriginal community is important and we want to celebrate everything they’re doing for our area.”

Bloodborne pathogens team

Trish Howard and Sandra Barnes were representing the NH bloodborne pathogens team, raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.

Next to the NH booth were some representatives of the new HIV101 campaign. I met Trish Howard, the Aboriginal Coordinator for the blood borne pathogens integration team, and Sandra Barnes, an HIV designate nurse. They were both in attendance to raise awareness and educate people about HIV/AIDS with the goal of reducing the stigma around the disease.

“Our biggest thing is getting the message out – HIV is not a death sentence,” said Barnes. “Early diagnosis is key – so get tested. If you’re sexually active, get tested.”

Barnes shared a frightening statistic: 25% of people that have HIV don’t know they have it, and it’s believed that this 25% is responsible for up to 75% of new infections.

“You can’t stop the spread if you don’t know, but we have everything to control it.” Barnes said being at events like the Aboriginal Day celebrations is important for their initiative because when you bring people together for a common goal, it’s easier to talk about difficult things when it’s out in the public.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Louella Nome, a community health rep and band councillor for Lheidli T’enneh. I asked her about the importance of events like this celebration to her community.

“It’s great – it’s about bringing people together and unity,” Nome said. “It’s building bridges – our strength comes in numbers.” She was excited to have a lot of family members together in one place.

And that’s really what the day was all about – celebrating family and being together.

Jessica Quinn

About Jessica Quinn

Jessica Quinn is regional manager, health promotion and community engagement for Northern Health, where she is actively involved in promoting the great work of NH staff to encourage healthy and active lifestyles. She also manages NH's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc) and moderates all comments for the NH blog. When she's not working, Jessica stays active by exploring the beautiful outdoors around Prince George via kayak, hiking boots or snowshoes, and she has recently completed her master's degree in professional communications from Royal Roads University, with a focus on the use of social media in health care.

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