Healthy Living in the North

Ts’uhoont’l Whuzhadel – Welcome – Bienvenue

Lheidli: “where the two rivers flow together”

T’enneh: “the People”

First Nations art on building depicting a heart with the words: "The Spirit of the Heart Welcomes our Canadian Athletes".

For the first time ever, the Canada Games have an Official Host First Nation. The 2015 Canada Winter Games are taking place on the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh.

It seems that Prince George is a national leader once again! For the first time ever, the First Nation on whose territory the Canada Winter Games are being held has been invited to co-host the Games and has participated fully as a true partner and Host First Nation. The flag of the Lheidli T’enneh people flies proudly alongside all of the flags that celebrate the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George; equally represented.

However, this partnership is more than just the symbolism of flags. The 2015 Canada Winter Games organizers have been immersed in the practical and nitty-gritty details of pulling off a successful winter games event – such as making sure speedskaters had the right safety bumpers and that partners like Northern Health could help ensure top-notch medical response and first aid readiness. Yet at the same time, they also worked hard in this new arena of building a meaningful relationship with the keepers of the traditional territory. In finding the proper and respectful ways to work together with a local First Nation, the 2015 Canada Winter Games Committee has made sure the first ever Host First Nation experience in Prince George has set the bar for all others to follow!

The Dakelh (Carrier) people have lived upon this land for untold centuries and were frequently hosts to gatherings. Thus, hosting an event at the place “where the two rivers flow together” is not a new experience for the local First Nation! Traditional protocols observe and respect the roles of both host and visitor. While these protocols have governed relations on the land for centuries they are still fresh and useful in the modern world. The Lheidli T’enneh have brought these ancient skills to the modern venue of the Canada Winter Games.

The story of a journey – the theme of the winter games and the heart of the opening ceremonies – also honoured the lives and history of the people of Lheidli T’enneh for their tens of centuries of living on this land. The contributions of Dakelh people are seen throughout these games. The work of Dakelh artists are evident everywhere, from the broad sweep of the shapes and colours in the official 2015 Canada Winter Games banners lining the streets to the fine details of the medals and from the wraps surrounding the pillars at the Civic Plaza to the shop windows of downtown businesses. This generous sharing of Carrier culture marked and deepened the experience of the Games for visitors and residents alike.

In the heart of downtown Prince George, often seen as a troublesome area in need of revitalization, the Lheidli T’enneh pavilion has anchored an ongoing warm winter welcome offered by Prince George and the Host First Nation. Sharing food, music and culture is the life blood here in the pavilion. The sound of drums and the performances by talented musicians and singers surrounded by food and history and culture resonates and draws in visitors. So much so that if you want to be in the audience for the 9:30 performance, I was told by a laughing greeter, “you had better be in a seat by 8:30.”

In every case where the Lheidli T’enneh have walked in the Games, the power and significance of the Games has been magnified. The opening ceremonies spoke to all who call this fair land home. The story of the river and the people was laid down, followed by the railroad and highway. The athletes walked these pathways as they entered, and by walking the symbolic land, the stage was set for the ceremonies. All nations were represented in the opening ceremonies but the centre-piecing of the Lheidli T’enneh opened the eyes of viewers to the depth and richness of Dakelh culture. The overall impression – that Prince George has got talent – was obvious. From Tristan Ghostkeeper’s athletic artistry to the little ones who sang and bounced for joy in their performances, to the pride of Chief Frederick, the message was clear: you don’t need to spend a ton of money on big name acts to move people to tears of pride. You just need to look at those amongst whom you live and see the gifts in the place that we call home.

The Games celebrate winter – one of the two seasons in northern B.C. (winter and not winter!) – in a profound way: by bringing young athletes to a national stage where they can ply their sport on snow or ice. In this shared space – a place where all eyes focus on youth and their future – we have found a way to be together honourably, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, as hosts to the Games.

Theresa Healy

About Theresa Healy

Theresa is the regional manager for healthy community development with Northern Health’s population health team and is passionate about the capacity of individuals, families and communities across northern B.C. to be partners in health and wellness. As part of her own health and wellness plan, she has taken up running and, more recently, weight lifting. She is also a “new-bee” bee-keeper and a devoted new grandmother. Theresa is an avid historian, writer and researcher who also holds an adjunct appointment at UNBC that allows her to pursue her other passionate love - teaching.

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Canada Winter Games: An opportunity for health legacy

Northern Health staff with mascot at 2015 Canada Winter Games venue

The Northern Health team has been visiting 2015 Canada Winter Games venues to share healthy living information with residents and visitors. From concussion awareness to knowledge of physical activity guidelines, the health legacy of the Games will have a positive impact for years to come!

The 2015 Canada Winter Games are in full swing in Prince George and it has truly been an exciting time for the region. Talk of the Games legacy often focuses on sport promotion, physical facilities, cultural showcase, and economic impact. For Northern Health, however, we’ve spent time leading up to the Games looking at our health legacy. What could we offer our populations before, during, and after the Games? How will Northern Health leverage the excitement of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enhance the health and wellness of northern B.C.?

  • IMAGINE: Legacy Grants: In the spirit of the 2015 Canada Winter Games, the IMAGINE grants placed special attention on projects that promote increased physical activity. Grants were awarded to 89 amazing community-based projects in 34 northern communities, totalling $279,870 for health promotion!
  • Smoke-Free Games Proclamation: Northern Health partnered with the 2015 Canada Winter Games, the City of Prince George and Promotion of Wellness in Northern BC to create and support a policy for safe, smoke-free environments for all athletes and spectators taking in the Games. Our goal is to continue these efforts with Prince George and other municipalities to enhance smoke-free bylaws for our northern populations.
  • Northern Safe Sport Tour: With provincial partners, we delivered 15 sport injury prevention and concussion management workshops to coaches, teachers, and parents throughout northern B.C. from June to December 2014. We also rolled out Concussions Matter, a campaign to further create awareness around concussions for medical professionals and community members.
  • Community Health Stars: The first three community health stars helped to launch this new program and were awarded torchbearer spots in the Canada Winter Games torch relay. This program will continue to shine a light on individuals who make tremendous differences in the health of their communities.
  • Growing for Gold: An early start with breastfeeding can contribute to our children “growing for gold!” This legacy program provides decals for businesses and facilities that commit to welcoming and supporting breastfeeding mothers and families. Look for these decals in your community!
Mandy Levesque

About Mandy Levesque

Mandy Levesque is Northern Health’s Lead, Healthy Community Development, Integrated Community Granting. Born and raised in northern Manitoba, Mandy and her family moved to Prince George in 2013. Mandy has a background in public health and health promotion and is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan. She is passionate about innovation and quality, empowering northern populations, and promoting health and wellness across communities. In her spare time, Mandy enjoys spending time with her family and stays active by taking in the exciting activities, trails, and events northern B.C. has to offer.

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Tobacco-free games

Sign that reads: "Smoke free outdoor space" posted at an 2015 Games Official Venue

Through a partnership with the City of Prince George, the 2015 Canada Winter Games, and Northern Health, the Games have been proclaimed to be tobacco-free! Look for these signs at 2015 Official Games Venues and look for smoke-free bylaw work to continue in your municipality as a legacy of the Canada Winter Games!

If you’ve been cheering on Team B.C. (or another province – but I’m biased!) in-person at the 2015 Canada Winter Games, you may have noticed something as you approached venues across the region: signs welcoming you to a smoke-free space! In January, the Games were declared to be smoke-free and now, signs informing visitors of this smoke-free policy are up across the region.

When Games volunteers picked up their information packages, they received a great overview of the policy and why it was implemented. If you want to promote tobacco-free sports in your community, this information provides a great template to use! Here’s the full information card that volunteers received from Northern Health and the 2015 Canada Winter Games:

The 2015 Canada Winter Games and Northern Health Authority are proud to support a tobacco-free 2015 Canada Winter Games.

The Tobacco-Free 2015 Games policy has been created to protect everyone who is attending the 2015 Canada Winter Games from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke at 2015 Games Official Venues.

The use of tobacco – including smoking – is prohibited at all indoor and outdoor 2015 Games Official Venues and in all public places within three metres of entry-ways.

Please note: The policy applies to any smoke-producing or vapour-producing activities. This means that no smoking of any kind is permitted, including the burning or vaporizing of tobacco or other substances. The policy also applies to vapour-producing devices such as e-cigarettes, vapes or vaporizers.

The handout that was created for volunteers also including an FAQ. The questions are helpful for anyone attending the Canada Winter Games as well as anyone looking to champion smoke-free bylaws or proclamations where they live!

Where can people smoke?

People who wish to smoke must leave 2015 Games Official Venues and grounds to do so. Beyond these Official Venues, provincial standards of no smoking within three metres of any entry or exit apply.

E-cigarettes don’t produce real smoke. Why are they included?

While e-cigarettes do not produce smoke, they do produce a vapour that is inhaled by people using them and by those around them. The vapour contains a variety of chemical components depending on the particular products being used. The safety and long-term effects of inhaling e-cigarette vapour has not been established.

Why are there no designated smoking areas at the 2015 Games?

The 2015 Canada Winter Games supports young athletes, good health and healthy practices. Smoking is one of the most health-damaging things a person can do. Supporting smoking in any way, including providing designated smoking areas, is inconsistent with the spirit of the Canada Games and the commitment to healthy practices.

I am working at the 2015 Games. What do I do if I see someone smoking at the venues?

Calmly and politely approach them and say: “I’m sorry, but smoking is not permitted at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.”

Are you concerned about your health because you use tobacco?

Access information and free nicotine patches or nicotine gum by visiting quitnow.ca or call HealthLinkBC 8-1-1.

Vince Terstappen

About Vince Terstappen

Vince Terstappen is a Project Assistant with the health promotions team at Northern Health. He has an undergraduate and graduate degree in the area of community health and is passionate about upstream population health issues. Born and raised in Calgary, Vince lived, studied, and worked in Saskatoon, Victoria, and Vancouver before moving to Vanderhoof in 2012. When not cooking or baking, he enjoys speedskating, gardening, playing soccer, attending local community events, and Skyping with his old community health classmates who are scattered across the world. Vince works with Northern Health program areas to share healthy living stories and tips through the blog and moderates all comments for the Northern Health Matters blog.

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Northern Health welcomes the Canada Winter Games to northern B.C.

Northern Health CEO Cathy Ulrich with Spirit the caribou mascot

Northern Health is pleased to welcome all of the Canada Winter Games athletes, officials, volunteers, supporters, and visitors to our beautiful region.

After many months of planning and preparation, it is exciting that the Canada Winter Games have arrived in northern British Columbia!

Northern Health is privileged to be an official community partner of the 2015 Canada Winter Games. I am pleased to welcome all of the athletes, officials, volunteers, supporters, and visitors to our beautiful region. I hope that you take the opportunity to explore the many aspects of our communities that make northern B.C. a wonderful place to live, work, and play.

In addition to extending a warm welcome, I want to say thank you to all of those involved in the Canada Winter Games, from the athletes vying for gold to the volunteers keeping the events running smoothly. You inspire us all to be more active, to connect to our communities, and to live healthier lives.

Whether you are competing, cheering, volunteering, or simply soaking up the atmosphere, I encourage you to keep your eyes open for Northern Health staff. Our team – including our newest team member, Spirit – will be at various games venues with information and resources to help you to stay active, prevent injuries, play tobacco-free, and eat well. If you aren’t able to make it out to the venues, check the Northern Health Matters blog regularly for Games-inspired tips and tricks to help you live a healthier, more active life.

For Northern Health, the Canada Winter Games will not end on March 1st. We have been working in partnership with other organizations to ensure that the Games leave a healthy legacy for all northerners into the future. After the medals have been handed out and the streets quiet down, our work will continue. Look for projects supported by IMAGINE: Legacy grants in your community, watch for local businesses supporting breastfeeding through the Growing for Gold campaign, and see Community Health Stars being recognized in your town.

I hope that you enjoy the Canada Winter Games and the healthy legacy that this event will leave in northern B.C.!

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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IMAGINE: Legacy Grants – Deadline Extended to July 11

IMAGINE grantsLast month, we told you about the great opportunity to apply for an IMAGINE: Legacy Grant (see previous post). You have one more week to send us your applications – the deadline has been extended to Friday, July 11!

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for northern B.C. communities, schools, organizations and individuals of all ages to be inspired by the upcoming 2015 Canada Winter Games and apply for funding towards a health promotion or disease/injury-prevention project that will help improve health through physical activity. Apply now! As a reminder, here are the details:

What are IMAGINE: Legacy Grants?
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage the positive impact of the 2015 Canada Winter Games in fostering a sustainable legacy of increased health and wellness for northern communities and their residents, which will last beyond the two-week event in Prince George and Northern B.C. – where they live, work, learn and play.

Types of IMAGINE: Legacy Grants available:
In the spirit of the 2015 Canada Winter Games, we are asking for health promotion or disease or injury prevention projects with a focus on physical activity that may also include other key health promotion goals including: injury prevention, tobacco-free communities, healthy eating (HE), active living (AL), HEAL for Your Heart, prevention of problematic substance use, HIV prevention, harm reduction and chronic disease prevention.  For more information, please visit our IMAGINE Grants site.

The grants fund health promotion or disease or injury prevention projects that:

  • Focus on physical activity and at least one other key health promotion goal – considering the upcoming 2015 Canada Winter Games and how the Games can be leveraged to inspire community health
  • Last – your project has a good chance of living on after the funding ends
  • Make a difference – your project will broadly impact community in a positive way
  • Reduce health inequities – your project will help support those who are disadvantaged or marginalized
  • Build relationships – your project will help people connect to each other and their community and share successes
  • Support collaboration & partnerships – your project will encourage diverse groups to work together toward a common goal
  • Improve health – your project will reduce the risks and impacts of chronic illnesses and injuries

Deadline for applications has been extended to July 11, 2014. Apply now!

Jessica Quinn

About Jessica Quinn

Jessica Quinn is the regional manager of health promotion and community engagement for Northern Health, where she is actively involved in promoting the great work of NH staff to encourage healthy, well and active lifestyles. She also manages NH's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc). 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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New IMAGINE: Legacy Grants available

IMAGINE grantsWe are very pleased to launch a new season of IMAGINE grant funding opportunities to help improve the health and well-being of those living, working, learning and playing in northern BC.

From February 13 to March 1, 2015, Prince George and Northern British Columbia will be host to the 2015 Canada Winter Games. Northern BC communities are presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage the positive impact of the Games in fostering a sustainable legacy of increased health and wellness for northerners that lasts beyond the two-week event. We hope that the Games will inspire and motivate communities, schools, organizations and individuals of all ages to take action towards efforts to improve health through physical activity.

If you have a great idea for a health promotion or disease or injury prevention project within the Northern Health region of BC, we invite you to apply for funding now.

What are IMAGINE: Legacy Grants?
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage the positive impact of the 2015 Canada Winter Games in fostering a sustainable legacy of increased health and wellness for northern communities and their residents, which will last beyond the two-week event in Prince George and Northern B.C. – where they live, work, learn and play.

Types of IMAGINE: Legacy Grants available:
In the spirit of the 2015 Canada Winter Games, we are asking for health promotion or disease or injury prevention projects with a focus on physical activity that may also include other key health promotion goals including: injury prevention, tobacco-free communities, healthy eating (HE), active living (AL), HEAL for Your Heart, prevention of problematic substance use, HIV prevention, harm reduction and chronic disease prevention.  For more information, please visit our IMAGINE Grants site.

The grants fund health promotion or disease or injury prevention projects that:

  • Focus on physical activity and at least one other key health promotion goal – considering the upcoming 2015 Canada Winter Games and how the Games can be leveraged to inspire community health
  • Last – your project has a good chance of living on after the funding ends
  • Make a difference – your project will broadly impact community in a positive way
  • Reduce health inequities – your project will help support those who are disadvantaged or marginalized
  • Build relationships – your project will help people connect to each other and their community and share successes
  • Support collaboration & partnerships – your project will encourage diverse groups to work together toward a common goal
  • Improve health – your project will reduce the risks and impacts of chronic illnesses and injuries

Applications are being accepted until July 7, 2014. Apply now!

Jessica Quinn

About Jessica Quinn

Jessica Quinn is the regional manager of health promotion and community engagement for Northern Health, where she is actively involved in promoting the great work of NH staff to encourage healthy, well and active lifestyles. She also manages NH's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc). 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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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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Winter’s healthy opportunities

Julia snacks as she walks on a winter trail.

Enjoying a snack on a winter trail.

I must admit, when the first snowflakes fell this year, my face lit up with an ear-to-ear grin. Driving to work after the first snowfall and seeing children walking to school together, bundled in their matching snowsuits and scarves with the same grins that I had, made me so excited for this winter. I lived in Vancouver for the last two years where real winter just doesn’t happen. I had missed the feeling of waking to find myself in my own Christmas snow globe.

This is my first winter in northern BC and while I mentally prepare myself for its length, I can’t help but be excited about all there is to do. I got my first set of cross-country skis at the local ski swap and am looking forward to becoming a more competent and well-balanced cross-country skier. I borrow snowshoes from friends and enjoy taking walks through the same forests that I love to hike through in the spring, summer, and fall. I’ve also decided to continue running outdoors through the winter, which has required the addition of grips for my sneakers, cozy clothes, a headlamp, and some reflectors!

Winter here seems so different than the winters I had growing up in Ontario and at university in Montreal. I think it’s because, in the north, so much of what we do in our spare time is outdoors. On the weekends and after work or school, we go play outside, changing our whole range of options and activities. That’s exciting to me!

We can trade in our swimsuits for snowsuits, our canoes for cross-country skis, add snowshoes to our hiking boots, and grippers to our sneakers- all of this changing our outdoor experience and the potential for fun outside!

We have so many great places to explore at our fingertips: mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, hiking trails, walking trails, ski hills, and so much more! Our exploration of these places takes different forms in each season, and that’s what makes winter great: it challenges us to interact with our surroundings in new ways.

When I started working with the 2015 Canada Winter Games, their slogan “we are winter” resonated with me. In the north, it seems that there is a true sense of pride in thriving during the long, cold, snowy winters. Northerners are up to the challenge of taking on the winter climate, of enjoying sport, and activity with family and friends in our snowy landscapes. I am so looking forward to next winter when we will welcome the country and show them what “we are winter” really means.

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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