Healthy Living in the North

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.


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