Healthy Living in the North

Make more of Movember

Man wearing a safety vest and nicotine replacement patch working near train tracks.

Make the most out of Movember! Get a check-up, protect your assets, set a quit date, and get up and move!

It’s Movember again; a time for all clean-shaven men to put away the razor and embark on a hair-raising journey. Although the extra fuzz likely comes in handy in northern B.C. this time of year, let’s not forget that Movember is about more than just moustaches!

We know that men in the north aren’t living as long as men in other parts of Canada, and we know that they’re dying of causes that are – in many cases – preventable, such as heart disease, cancer, and injury. So this November, get a jump on the new year and make some resolutions to improve your health (if you’re a man) or the health of a man in your life! Here are some ideas to get you going: 

Get a check-up

Don’t wait until you’re already sick! Make Movember your annual reminder to go and visit your doctor. Not sure what you need to get checked out at your age? Check out our Men’s Health MANual online

Get up and move

Whether at home or at work, try to sit less and move more. Walking is the easiest way to get started, and requires the least amount of equipment. Take another guy with you, and help improve his health at the same time!

Set a quit date

There’s no better day to quit smoking than today! It’s the single best thing you can do to improve your health! If you’ve been thinking about quitting, but are looking for some help call HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1, or check out

Protect your assets

Seatbelts and helmets let you work and play hard, but most importantly they improve your chances of making it home to your families at the end of the day!

So this year when the ‘staches emerge let them inspire you to put your health at the top of your to-do list. Men’s health matters, because men matter!

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.


Thinking health beyond Movember

Katryna Roos

Katryna is an advocate for men’s health. She wants to get men and women talking about health!

Twenty odd years ago when my parents got married, my dad sported a moustache; maybe it was the style or maybe it was the cold Manitoba winter. The moustache didn’t appear very often in my childhood and I hadn’t seen it for a while until it made an appearance two years ago when he participated in the wildly successful month of Movember. I’m proud to say that in the Maritimes, where I’m from, there seemed to be no shortage of Mo Bros. The past few years my younger brother also became a Mo Bro along with countless male friends of mine. Because of these wonderful men whom I care so much about, I’ve come to believe in the importance of Movember and the massive amounts of facial hair it brings. Now we’ve just gone through that time of year again, when men everywhere grew a “stache” for a cause, but what is the cause?

Movember is an initiative that was started in Australia in 2003 to raise money and awareness about men’s health and in just a decade it’s come a very long way. At first, I’ll admit I didn’t understand why men insisted on growing the stache, it was like walking right into the 80s, but I couldn’t deny how well it got people talking about this cause. And that is the point – to get people talking about men’s health. Movember is not just about the fundraising; the symbolic moustache is a walking billboard, telling men to be aware of their health.

The fundraising and message spreading is not just for men either. Any woman can become a Mo Sister and show the men in their lives how that they care about them, that even though they can drive us crazy at times, we want them around for years to come. Passionate Canadian women have taken the initiative to raise awareness and funds to support their furry lipped Mo Bros. Check out to see the contenders for this year’s Mo of Fame, to donate, or just for more information.

Now, even though Movember is over for this year, let’s keep talking! Let’s talk about men’s health and how to keep the wonderful men of Canada healthy and happy. Gentlemen, gentlemen! Studies have found that you just don’t want to talk about your own health. Enough of this “tough guy” attitude! Man up, and come in to your local clinic or doctor’s office for regular checkups. A simple talk with your doc could save your life. What should you be talking about? Prostate cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes! There are so many easy to treat diseases that no one wants to talk about. If treated early these issues could be very simple, but left untreated they can be deadly, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. For a great read filled with more information on the risks men are taking when it comes to health, check out the Chief Medical Health Officer’s Report “Where are the Men?”

So if you’re one of these wonderful Canadian men we’re talking about, come talk to us! And ladies, if there are any men in your lives you care about, fathers, brothers, sons, husbands, or friends, tell them you want them to be here for years to come and to do that they need to talk about their health. Come on Canada, let’s talk!

Katryna Roos

About Katryna Roos

Katryna is a Maritime girl who graduated from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. After moving to Dease Lake in June she began working as a public health/acute care nurse at the Stikine Health Centre. She’s loved getting to know the community and all the wonderful people of Dease Lake. In her spare time she enjoys coaching the Bantam and Midget hockey players, playing in the Rec hockey league and exposing northern BC to maritime music. The Trews, Joel Plaskett, or Great Big Sea anyone? (Katryna no longer works with Northern Health, we wish her all the best.)


Tales from the Man Cave: Vulnerable Men

20131121JCoyleMovemberIt’s here again, a reminder of our vulnerability. Movember is the fun engagement of a very serious issue regarding prostate cancer in men.

People grow all sorts of mustaches and sport them for a good cause. Our sisters, for their part, voluntarily put up with a change in the look of their men and the discomfort of a jagged face.

This of course reminds me of a time when I had an infection of the prostate gland, that little walnut-size gland that sits between the penis and the rectum. It was a few hours of a discomfort and a dragging sensation in the lower region followed by a good dose of fever over 40C, uncontrollable shakes, hyperventilation and a trip to the emergency department. What a ride that was. Awhile later, thankful for antibiotics and Tylenol, I crawled home to my own personal nurse.

I had first-hand communication with the prostate at a very personal and painful level as a reminder of my vulnerability – something I have to say that I don’t do too well with at the best of times – understanding my own vulnerability, that is.

It was not the end of the world though and after a while I recovered and got back to work. However, as my work is about the promotion of public health, this was a good introduction as to how disabling something going wrong with the prostate can be. I knew the theory now I had the experience and so a fuller understanding.

So all you venerable and vulnerable men please add an annual visit to your doctor to have an oil change – you might feel vulnerable during the check-up but it might save your a** in the long run.

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.


The more you Mo

20131112LaineBeckerkidsI want to get dudes thinking about getting active with their families and friends. Becoming healthy men (and women) begins early in life, as studies have shown that healthy childhood development is associated with better overall health in life’s later stages. It doesn’t matter what stage of your life you are at, what matters is spending some quality time with those people and getting some much needed exercise while doing it!!

For me, that means making sure that I have time and energy for my kids, even at the end of a long day. The best experiences of being a dad are when I am out and being active with the kids. Sharing laughs and stories with them is super important to me, and that kind of connection is helping us to grow as a family.

I found a renewed interest in recreation when my kids came along. I often say to my friends when they have kids for the first time: “How does it feel knowing that you have reached the best part of your life?” Having kids is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. They quite likely saved my life, actually, and watching them discover and learn allows me to live vicariously through them.

There are interesting perks to being a father that you really can’t get a feel for until you have kids of your own. Any dads reading will know what I’m talking about, and for those aspiring (or not so much) to be a pappy someday, you might get a chuckle.

  1. Who knew that I would become the world’s toughest dude? It doesn’t matter what size you are or how strong (or not strong) you might be, kids look up to their dads with unconditional admiration. So for the first ten years or so, I will continue to be stronger than anyone else on earth…at least in the eyes of two little people.
  2. I’m also a giant that can pretty much reach up and touch the sky. Just sayin’.
  3. I apparently can also fix everything that is broken and there are very high expectations for me to do so. Thankfully they have yet to expose my limitations, but for the time being I will gladly play the part of MacGyver.
  4. My daughter is convinced that I actually know everything in the whole world! It’s kind of funny really because for most of my teens and twenties I thought I knew everything too! Nonetheless it’s nice to have blind support in my corner.

But you don’t need to be a dad to have fun with family. Connect with your parents. Head out hunting or fishing with your old man. Go for walks. Hit the ski hill. Go for a canoe ride down the river. We live in one of the best regions on earth, with endless terrain allowing for versatile recreation at every turn. The important piece is to take the next step and get out there! Even if you are far from home or the family isn’t available for adventure, take the initiative to get involved in the outdoors of northern BC.

My recommendation is to live everyday as if it was your last…and live well right until the very last day. That notion has a different meaning for me now than it did 10 years ago. Planning for the long-term begins today.

Get up an hour earlier and take control of your life. As you are reading this, millions of people across the world are getting exercise and taking care of themselves…push the close button at the top of this screen and open the door; get outside!

The other thing that men need to do is to take a more active part in their health. This extends beyond getting exercise and eating healthy. Men in Northern BC are renowned for higher rates of diseases, cancers and occupational injuries…yet we access the health care system less than any other dudes in the province. So even though we are sicker and more prone to injury and illness, we are reluctant to see our doctors for the necessary check-ups.

So break the mold. Change the pattern. Make an appointment with your doctor and get the proper check-ups. If you aren’t sure what screenings you might be due for and when, have a look at The MANual created by the Men’s Health Program at Northern Health.

Movember brings men’s health issues to the forefront, but we need to fight the good fight all year round. Taking care of ourselves is a full time investment that has a great long-term rate of return!! The more you Mo!!

Laine Becker

About Laine Becker

Laine Becker is in his final year of the Bachelor of Nursing program at UNBC, working towards becoming a registered nurse, and has worked as student for NH's men's health program. He's lived in the north his whole life and feels he couldn't have picked a better place to live, choosing to stay here, now raising his two kids with his wife. He feels the north has everything for everyone and the last few years has renewed his passion for being outdoors, as he is teaching his kids the importance of being active and exploring the world in his backyard. He urges men and women to become involved in their own health care: Eat well, exercise regularly and get proper check-ups!


Our Mr. Movember winner

Mr. Movember

Azreer Gill came in first place with the most votes in November’s Mr. Movember contest!

During the month of November, people all over the world promoted men’s health and prostate cancer by growing a Mo to help raise money to support prostate cancer research. The Northern Health Men’s Health program helped raise awareness by holding its first ever Mr. Movember contest to see who could grow the best Mo.

There were 11 very brave participants from across the Northern Health region.  Their pictures were posted on the men’s health website for all to see and the public voted on who had the best Mo. Each week, a new photo of each participants was put on the website to show their growing progress.

With over 4,000 votes from people picking their favourite Mo, we are pleased to announce that Azreer Gill, an NH environmental health officer from Terrace, is the winner of the first annual Mr. Movember contest.  Secondplace went to Shane Wadden, another environmental health officer from Terrace, and third went to Andrew Aucoin, Manager, Housekeeping and Laundry, from Prince George.

Thank you to everyone who voted and to all the participants! We look forward to next year.

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. (Brandon no longer works with Northern Health, we wish him all the best.)


Month of Man: Celebrating the men in your life

Brandon's Mo

Brandon shows off his own Mo and the Movember decorations he added to a colleague’s door.

Happy Mo Growin’ to everyone! I hope your Mo’s are coming along nicely now that we’re in the middle of Movember.

Some of our Northern Health men (and even women – see photo below!) have been showing off their Mo’s in order to help raise awareness of prostate cancer research and men’s health. We’ve gathered photos of these Mo Bros, posted them on our men’s health site and now we need your help! Who do you think is growing the best Mo?

We’ll be updating their photos with their progress on Friday, so be sure to check back and vote again – you can even vote every day if you want to. Then on December 7, we’ll crown the best Mo’Grower as the 2012 Mr. Movember.

Cookie Mo's

Kathleen, a public health nurse from Dawson Creek, brought in a batch of gingerbread mustache cookies to celebrate Movember!

Have you seen the new MANual yet? It’s our gift to you: a men’s health survival guide. Men’s health matters, so this booklet gives you health information for men of all ages about nutrition, active living and health screenings men need at various stages of life. Check it out and be sure to share it with other men in your life!

You can even win your own print copy of the MANual. Test your knowledge in our interactive men’s health quiz and you could win a MANual and an assortment of other men’s health goodies!

Don’t miss out! Visit the men’s health site today!

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. (Brandon no longer works with Northern Health, we wish him all the best.)


Happy MOvember from Dr. Bowering


Check out our new MANual – a men’s health survival guide!! Visit to see it today!

It’s that time of year again, when men grow the Mo to support awareness of men’s health and to help raise money for prostate cancer research. What started out as a grassroots movement has now become one of the most iconic health promotion campaigns in the world. Raising awareness about prostate cancer and engaging men in their own health is incredibly important – and Northern Health is playing its part. Northern Health’s men’s health program has been working with our community partners over the last 16 months to raise awareness about all men’s health issues by:

  • Presenting to over 70 community groups on men’s health across the region.
  • Providing health screenings to over 800 northerners across our region for blood pressure, sugars, and cholesterol.
  • Developing promotional materials to reach men, including our men’s health website, radio and social media campaigns.

And most recently, we have developed a men’s health MANual, which provides health information for men of all ages about nutrition, active living, and health screenings at the various life stages. It’s a man maintenance guide for health – take a look and share it with the men in your family today!

Men in northern B.C. aren’t living as long as men in other parts of the province. MOvember reminds us that we need to work as a region-wide community to get men to live the best quality of life they can for themselves and their family. I want to invite all of you to check out the MANual and let us know what you think. ALso, stay tuned over the next couple days when we’ll be starting our Month of MAN promotion campaign at – we’ll have weekly contests and quizzes over the next month and you could win some great prizes!

Happy Mo growin’! Share your story with us! Are you growing a Mo?

Dr. David Bowering

About Dr. David Bowering

Dr. David Bowering is Northern Health’s Chief Medical Officer. In November 2010, he released the report “Where are the Men? Chief Medical Health Officer’s report on the Wellbeing of Men and Boys in Northern BC” and has been heavily involved with the men’s health program since then. To stay active, Dr. Bowering walks or bikes to work, walks his dog daily, boycotts elevators, hikes or cross-country skis most weekends and plays with his grandchildren.