Healthy Living in the North

Celebrating our values in action: Northern Health’s staff-award winners

Northern Health (NH) strives to make its values – empathy, respect, collaboration, and innovation – the core of our way of being at work, and the basis for every interaction with our patients, residents, clients, and their families, as well as with each other. On April 3, 2019, NH celebrated individuals and teams that live these values every day, with the 3rd Annual Dr. Charles Jago Awards. Named after NH’s last Board Chair, “the Jagos” award one staff member, physician, or team for each value, and recognize many nominations along the way.

“Every year, I’m honoured to present these awards and inspired by the stories of staff living our values,” says Cathy Ulrich, NH’s President and CEO. “Health care environments are often challenging. The Jago Award nominees and winners demonstrate how to bring your best self to work despite these challenges. To see Jago Award nominations from across all levels and regions of the organization speaks to the dedication and commitment of Northern Health’s staff and physicians. I hope NH staff, physicians, and community members will join me in congratulating the 2019 winners.”

The 2019 Jago Award winners are:

Empathy: Jennifer Haas – Manager, Specialized Mental Health & Addiction Services (Terrace)

A plaque award presentation.

Cathy Ulrich, NH President and CEO (left) and Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair (right) present the Jago Award for Empathy to Jennifer Haas.

“The clients we work with at the Intensive Case Management Team are individuals who face complex challenges, such as: housing, poverty, barriers to accessing health and social services, and have problematic or chronic substance use. These people are some of the most marginalized in our community, yet Jen has consistently shown that people with an addiction are human beings who, with the right support, can make a contribution to society. For example, when Jen begins work in the morning, it is not uncommon to see people sleeping on our ramp or in the backyard with a tent set up. Rather than tell them to ‘move along,’ she provides them with a welcoming space inside the building and invites them in for a cup of tea. With each interaction, she is able to authentically listen and relate.” – Jessica Gaus, Social Program Officer/Support Worker, Intensive Case Management Team

Respect: Theresa Healy – Lead, Capacity Development & Education, Indigenous Health (retired) (Prince George)

A plaque presentation.

Cathy Ulrich, NH President and CEO (left) and Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair (right) present the Jago Award for Respect to Theresa Healy.

“Theresa has been a dedicated and thoughtful employee of Northern Health for ten years. Broadly speaking, Theresa’s work has been with communities to address social determinants of health and improve the well-being of residents in the North. For the past year and a half, Theresa has worked with the Indigenous Health team developing a training curriculum aimed at fostering cultural safety within Northern Health, and the health system at large. Through this work, Theresa consistently demonstrates and lives Northern Health’s value of respect.” – Victoria Carter, Lead, Engagement and Integration, Indigenous Health

Collaboration: Dr. Anthon Meyer (Stuart Lake & Fort St. James)

A plaque award presentation.

Cathy Ulrich, NH President and CEO (left) and Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair (right) present the Jago Award for Collaboration to Dr. Anthon Myer.

“Since he began work in the community of Fort St. James, Dr. Meyer has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving health care in the rural and remote communities we serve. Every day, his passion, vision, and expertise draw excitement and guide processes that build partnerships and improve the health outcomes to a level the community has never experienced. The foundation of his leadership is built on strong values that encompass empathy, respect, collaboration, and innovation. As the Medical Director, he leads by example and fosters these values in the group of physicians, inter-professional teams, and administrative staff that he works with. He has built partnerships with First Nations leaders that are based on honesty and respect and, as a result, the care model honours cultural diversity and focuses on improving health care inequities for our First Nations people. Dr. Meyer has dedicated his career to working in Northern, rural, and under-served communities, and, through partnerships, has drastically changed health outcomes for these communities.” – Kathy Marchal, Physician Connectivity, Private Physician Office

Innovation: Gene Saldana, Nuclear Medicine Technologist (Fort St. John)

A plaque award presentation.

Cathy Ulrich, NH President and CEO (left) and Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair (right) present the Jago Award for Innovation to Gene Saldana.

“Gene began working at Northern Health in September 2018. Within the first few weeks, he quickly recognized opportunities for improvement in processes, which would ultimately lead to an increase in patients he could see in a given day, while, at the same time, decreasing the amount of supplies the organization utilizes for these services. Gene’s ability to embrace the Northern Health values comes naturally, and he continues to be a value-added member of the team.” – Allison Smook, Business Analyst, Business Support

Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees!

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.


Our People: Spotlight on Faramarz Kashanchi

Fara on top of a mountain.
Fara at the summit of Mount McKirdy in Valemount, BC.

Faramarz Kashanchi (aka Fara) came a long way to join the Northern Health team! Originally from Iran, Fara moved to Prince George in 2011 and has been at NH for the past six years. Allow us to introduce you to Fara, an NH Outcomes Analyst for Clinical Programs, Planning and Performance Improvement, who has a love of adventure, outdoor activities!

Why did you choose your career?

I love finding stories from data!

What brought you to NH?

When I applied for the outcomes analyst job in Northern Health I just wanted to enter a job related to my statistics degree and as time passed I realized how exciting and helpful it is to be able to combine academic statistics with real world stories.

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into your kind of career?

Selfie of Fara on the lift at Powder King, mountains in the background.
Fara at Powder King, Northern BC

It’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. It takes time to reach a happy place in a career, and in the beginning you may not know where that happy place is and that’s okay too.

What do you like about the community you live in?

I’ve lived in Prince George for about eight years now and I love the people and nature. Here I learned how to ski, ice skate, snowshoe, fish, ice fish, kayak, canoe, squash, tennis, yoga, golf… I learned all of them from kind and passionate people in this community!

I came for…

I came to Canada and Prince George for good education and a good job.

…and I stayed because…

I found so much more!

A kayak with a fishing rod on the beach at West Lake at sunset.
West Lake, Prince George, BC.
Darren Smit

About Darren Smit

Darren is the NH Web Specialist on the Communications team. He is a creative at heart, with passion for photography, graphic design, typography, and more. During the past 17 years, he has traveled to over 80 countries worldwide, and he lives in Prince George with his wife and son.


Staff profile: Shelly Crack

Certificate presented to staff person.

Shelly Crack recently celebrated 10 years of service with Northern Health!

In every issue of A Healthier You, I have the pleasure of profiling a member of Northern Health’s amazing and diverse staff team. For our recent issue on local food, one name kept popping up when I was looking across our vast region for staff members with a passion in this area: Shelly Crack, a community dietitian on Haida Gwaii.

Shelly is a champion of local food who, amongst other things, works with local schools to support students to grow, harvest, prepare, and eat healthy, local food. She recently celebrated ten years of service with Northern Health and was also recently presented, along with fellow Northern Health staff member Christopher Horner, with a 2015 Citizen of the Year Award by the Masset Haida Lions Club.

Earlier this year, I had the chance to connect with Shelly to learn more about her interest in local food, her life on Haida Gwaii, and the programs that she supports. This profile was originally published in the May 2015 issue of A Healthier You.

Family photo

Shelly’s family values growing, gathering, and eating local food.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Northern Health.

For the last 10 years, I have been a community dietitian on Haida Gwaii. This is my first job out of school and I love it! After seven years of travelling and working between Hazelton and Haida Gwaii, I settled on the north end of Haida Gwaii where I currently live with my wife, our two children and an incredible community of friends.

Amongst other things that I do as the community dietitian, about five years ago I began to connect with the provincial Farm to School program. Through that program, we connect directly with local producers to bring food grown, harvested, gathered, and hunted on Haida Gwaii into schools. At this point, every school on island is engaged with Local Food to School and some schools have local ingredients included in every menu item.

We recently received a Healthy Communities grant from Northern Health to grow this program. We’ll be able to bring local, traditional food into the hospital for special events, continue to support local hot lunch and experiential learning programs, and create a local food pantry in Masset where local food can be sourced, sold, processed, preserved, and distributed to food programs.

In addition to being the community dietitian, I also coordinate the chronic disease management program in Masset. Working in both of these roles is motivating because as a dietitian, I work directly with individuals with chronic disease and with the local food system aiming to improve nutrition of the entire community. For me, healthy, local, sustainable food is one of the key tools that we have to combat chronic illness.

Family in a kayak

During a three-week paddling trip of Gwaii Haanas National Park, Shelly, her wife, and two year old daughter dehydrated 21 days’ worth of food – most of which came from their garden!

What are some of the best features of Haida Gwaii and the north coast that support local food?

Local food is deeply valued on Haida Gwaii – it is one of the reasons why people live here! It is so amazing to see how my interest and passion for local food is matched with other peoples’ energy. The local food movement is happening island-wide and so many people – the Haida, local fisheries, teachers, students and others – are involved in bringing local food programs to life. There’s just so much momentum!

This is also a beautiful place for food! There are hundreds of pounds of chanterelles in our forests and an amazing bounty of fish and seafood. When I was pregnant with my son, my wife, two year old daughter and I paddled in Gwaii Haanas National Park. The trek took us three weeks and to prepare, we dehydrated 21 days’ worth of food, most of it taken right from our garden. We fished and ate locally the whole way!

Two plates with local food items

Mushrooms, berries, and bountiful fish and seafood are just some of the local food options on Haida Gwaii, “a beautiful place for food”, where local food is deeply valued.

What do you do to live a healthy life?

My family values growing, gathering, and eating food but in addition to local food, I stay active. Whether it’s biking to work, walking on the beach, practising yoga, kayaking, or camping on weekends, I love the peacefulness that sets Haida Gwaii apart from busy centres.

My community also supports my health. My family shares land, a garden, food preparation, and child care responsibilities with another family. This co-operative support and strong social connectedness on Haida Gwaii supports health.

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