Page 1

Healthier You Spring



Page 28



Minister Shirley Bond shares her thoughts on healthy living.


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the people in h so many reet, there is it w ct ra st inte em on the when I meet and chance to ital. When I see th flecting on a time cility I e th d a h hosp e fa re re “I have ing at the ile. I know they a ay when I leave th ’s lives.” d y by work le sm communit friendly wave and At the end of the difference in peop always a er of their family. eve I have made a emb truly beli lp e h ed a m



“The best part of coming to Chetwynd was the opportunity to learn. I did not have any emergency experience and had spent most of my career in maternity. It was a steep learning curve, but the physicians were willing to teach me and other nurses mentored me. They have all become more than co-workers, they have become friends. There is such a positive and supportive energy at Chetwynd General Hospital. There may be few of us, but when we work together, we are capable of great things.” Northern Health Offers: • New Grad Friendly positions • Professional development and advancement opportunities • Great benefit package and pension • The ability to work within a multidisciplinary team • Full scope practice the northern way of caring


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Volume 5, Issue 1




HEALTHY LIVING LESSONS FROM A BUSY NORTHERNER Minister Shirley Bond – a grandmother, former Health Minister, and proud resident of northern B.C. – shares her thoughts on healthy living, staying active, connecting with family, and the importance of taking small steps to live a healthier life.

INSIDE RUNNING MY WAY TO THE ROAD RACE������ PAGE 6 One woman’s story of how she came to call herself a runner.

SPECIAL EVENTS THIS WINTER���������������������� PAGE 14 Communities across northern B.C. are hosting winter festivals and special events!

BODY IMAGE & MENTAL HEALTH������������������ PAGE 18 What is body image and how does it connect to women’s mental health and wellness?

PROFILE: DR. ANNE POUSETTE����������������������� PAGE 22






HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS VACCINE = CANCER PREVENTION�������������������������������� PAGE 24 The information you need to know about the HPV vaccine, an effective way to prevent cervical cancer and other cancers.

BREASTFEEDING, THE W.H.O., AND QUESNEL��������������������������������������������������� PAGE 26 There’s a new network of breastfeeding supporters in Quesnel – and their project shines a light on what makes a successful healthy community project!


����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� PAGE 30

Judy Gerow, a grandmother and member of the Kitselas First Nation, shares her thoughts on healthy aging.

Dr. Anne Pousette is passionate about physical activity and wants to get northern B.C. moving!


Healthier You



Greetings from Northern Health

Healthier You Volume 5, Issue 1 – Spring 2016

I am pleased to welcome you to the Spring issue of Healthier You magazine.

Cathy Ulrich President and Chief Executive Officer, Northern Health

With the magazine entering its fifth year, I appreciate everyone who took the time to complete our reader survey in the last issue. We heard how much you enjoy reading stories about healthy northern B.C. communities, getting evidencebased health information from Northern Health professionals, and browsing a wide variety of articles. I know that you’ll find this issue of the magazine delivers on all of those fronts yet again.

Where can you find Healthier You?

“In doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics, pharmacies and other community settings, we will be waiting there too – keeping you company, and sharing stories and insight into health-related issues that matter to you.”

4 Healthier You


In this issue, we’ve focused on the theme of women’s health. We feature an interview with Minister Shirley Bond, who shares her experiences staying healthy, connected to family, and engaged in the community, even when faced with a busy, travel-filled schedule. We also explore the issue of body image and women’s mental wellness (page 18), provide the evidence-based information you need on the HPV vaccine (page 24), and more. I hope that you enjoy learning about many different aspects of health through the magazine’s unique northern B.C. lens. We are always interested in hearing your thoughts on Healthier You magazine. Please send your comments and feedback to our editorial team at healthpromotions@

published by:

the northern way of caring


Copyright ©2015. All rights reserved. Reproduction of articles permitted with credit.

Northern Health

Contributors / Healthier You is produced by the Northern Health communications team with contributions from Northern Health staff and partner organizations, in partnership with Glacier Media.

Glacier Media Group

Sales & Marketing Kevin Dergez Director of Special Projects Ellyn Schriber Newsmedia Features Manager BC Keshav Sharma Manager Specialty Publications

Advertising Sales Prince George Citizen

Creative Director / Eric Pinfold

Advertisements in this magazine are coordinated by Glacier Media. Northern Health does not endorse products or services. Any errors, omissions or opinions found in this magazine should not be attributed to the publisher. The authors, the publisher and the collaborating organizations will not assume any responsibility for commercial loss due to business decisions made based on the information contained in this magazine. Speak with your doctor before acting on any health information contained in this magazine. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without crediting Northern Health and Glacier Media. Printed in Canada. Please recycle.

端 Walks every day 端 Eats his greens 端 Wears his head gear

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There are running and walking groups all over northern B.C. Find one in your community.

I never called myself a runner. As a young adult, I dabbled in jogging but found it difficult to stay committed to a regular schedule. After becoming a wife and mother of two beautiful daughters, things really took a turn for the busy! It became even more difficult for me to make exercise a regular part of my life. I enjoyed running whenever I did get out for a jog, but my success stayed limited due to my lack of consistency and reluctance to run alone. In 2010, I first joined the YMCA Learn to Run Clinic – one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself and my family. Instead of imagining success, I dared to make it a reality. Running five kilometres seemed like a daunting goal, but from the first day, I knew I would have the support to keep coming back. The running leaders offered kindness, knowledge, and encouragement to make the experience positive all around. Someone could always relate to my situation on any given day. The feeling of physical and mental strength during a run followed by the feeling of success at the finish is something that never gets old! Since I had such a positive experience with my first clinic, I returned the following year. Once again, I found great support within the group and successfully completed my first 10 km race. Running around town with my new friends quickly became a favourite pastime. Because of an injury, my running stopped abruptly in 2012. I was frustrated but knew that taking time off to let my body heal was the right thing to do. I came back to the clinic for 10 km races in 2013 and 2014, finding success and elation once again. Choosing to come out for a run can be difficult some days, but it’s easy to decide when there’s a group waiting for me. When I run regularly, I feel happy and healthy – like I can do anything I set out to do. That feeling is priceless, and I can now call myself a runner. The excitement for my next race is building. How can a group help you reach your goals this year?

6 Healthier You






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and other healthy living lessons from a busy northerner HOW DOES A BUSY NORTHERN WOMAN STAY HEALTHY AND ACTIVE? WE ASKED MINISTER SHIRLEY BOND (MLA, PRINCE GEORGE-VALEMOUNT) TO SHARE HER INSIGHTS AND EXPERIENCES! Making a profound difference in health “As a former Health Minister, one of the things that I learned that became so profound for me was the fact that some form of regular exercise – 30 minutes a day – and eating fruits and vegetables really does make a difference! It’s a way for us to take personal control of our lifestyles. It helps reduce chronic disease, improves quality of life, and reduces costs to

8 Healthier You


the health care system. I think those are pretty important outcomes! It really is about making that decision to take some degree of control over your personal health outcomes. I am the first to tell you that it is not easy and I am not nearly as consistent as I would like to be but it’s certainly something that I think about in my schedule – to try and sort out how and when I can make that effort.”

Always ready for a walk “People need to realize that you don’t have to be a super athlete to strive to have a healthier lifestyle. In my case, it’s as simple as putting on a comfortable pair of shoes and going for that walk! I love to walk, so my primary physical activity is walking. For me, the reason that works as well as it does is because it’s portable – I can do that wherever I am. My job as a Minister calls me to be not just across the province but across the country. So for me, walking is a stress reliever and it’s also the easiest way to stay physically active. I don’t go to a gym at this point in my life. Instead, I rely on the portability of being able to walk and enjoy that very much. I continually have a suitcase packed and it’s a matter of having a pair of running shoes and an outdoor jacket in that suitcase.” Physical activity & community “You’ve got to be really creative and really focused on saying ‘if this matters, we have to find time for it.’ I had been struggling in December to try and fit in my walks because of my schedule so I took advantage of the Arthritis Walk. This gave me a chance to support a great organization but, also allowed me to get in a couple of kilometres. I look at things in that way – can I support an organization but, by the way, find a way to make that a part of improving my quality of life as well? I loved it! I did numerous laps with great company and I supported a great organization at the same time. I think that’s a super win-win.” Unplugging & walking

Minister Bond celebrates Red Nose Day with family.

“Many of us today live a very, very hectic lifestyle. I don’t find it easy to go home in the evening and disengage from work. Technology allows us to engage with our work all the time and so for me, my time walking is a chance to physically disengage. While you can still ponder or think things through, it’s physically a break from those things that keep us tied to our desks. In many of our jobs, there’s a lot of sitting time so walking is that physical disengagement that says: ‘OK, time to put down the technology, move away from your desk, and get outside.’” Family & outdoor play

Busy schedules & healthy living “I think that everyone grapples with how to make sure that you are not just physically but also mentally fit. I have a reputation for being a hard worker and working very long hours. I work practically every day. I start very early in the morning and I work very late at night. That does have potential impacts on your health so it’s good for me to stop and think about healthy lifestyles and what that means.”

“My favourite winter activity is spending time outside with my grandsons. We love playing. One grandson in particular loves to play hockey. We have hockey nets everywhere! And when we play, Grandma is usually the goaltender. The reason I play goal is because I’m a sieve! The boys like it when I play goal because they’re guaranteed a victory. We love to be outside in the snow. Tobogganing, those kinds of activities with our grandsons. But primarily, we’re a hockey family. We find that pretty much anywhere we go, we can figure out how to play hockey. And in the winter, it’s outside with big nets and I’m usually the goalie.”


Healthier You


Minister Bond and her grandsons walk together in the CIBC Run for the Cure.

Family connections “I am blessed to live here. My family is the most important thing to me. I have a son and daughter-in-law who live in Prince George with our two incredible grandsons and I’m very grateful for that. Our daughter and her husband have just recently relocated to work in Australia. I’m still grappling with that as a mom and it certainly has changed the way that we need to connect with one another. I very much rely on technology to connect. My husband and I speak to each other every day by phone, wherever I am. We have a designated time where we catch up about what’s happened through the day and how we can support one another when we’re physically apart. That’s really an important part of my day – knowing there’s that consistent connectivity in the evenings.

10 Healthier You


I’m still a believer in trying to build quality family time. I know how hard it is and how challenging it is for families. You need to make sure you are really diligent about trying to carve out that time, because if you let it, it just erodes. I very much appreciate my son and daughterin-law who, despite incredibly busy lives, aim to have sit-down times as a family and talk about what happened throughout the day. It’s one of the things I love most about my grandsons – they actually ask each other how their day went and how their dad’s and mom’s days went. For me, that’s all part of mental wellness. We’re just really blessed as grandparents to be included in that and to be supportive and helpful wherever we can.” 

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Be your best self “There are those people who are very focused about being in the gym every day but for some of us, that isn’t the easiest thing to do at this point in time. So the question is: how do you carve – out of what is already a jam-packed day, week, or month – the time that really helps you be your best self? For me, it’s a daily juggling act, as it is for most other people. One of the things we grapple with is that for most of us, the last person we think about is ourselves. We’re busy trying to fix problems, deliver outcomes, and care for family. When you realize that you are not your best self, you’re going to have a really hard time doing those things that are so important to you.” Small steps “One of the things that I’ve learned is that you don’t have to be a superathlete to think about a healthy lifestyle. For so long, people have thought about being in gyms – and that is great for many people – but it’s about taking those small steps, starting to recognize that you can make a difference in your life.” Health is a journey “It’s been a journey for me, recognizing the importance of taking those small steps and consistently carving out time. I still struggle with it but I’m acutely aware of how important it is to strive to be your best self and I can tell when I’m not.” Demystifying health

Shirley and Bill Bond walk together in support of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. “I did numerous laps with great company and I supported a great organization at the same time. I think that’s a super win-win.”

12 Healthier You


“Many people assume that healthy living means being super athletic or having some daily, aggressive fitness regime. I think we have to bring it back to: what is it that gets you up and moving? What is it that allows you to eat better? We have to, in essence, demystify the whole issue of healthy living. It’s small steps, personal responsibility, and those small changes that can make a significant difference.”

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During our northern B.C. winters, it’s important to get outside, stay active and healthy, and enjoy time with friends and family. Communities across the region recognize this, and many of them host winter festivals and special events – here are just a few highlights of what is planned:

The Caledonia Classic Dogsled Race is happening February 26-28 in Fort St. James. It is the only race in Canada that combines sprint, mid-distance, and long distance races into one exciting weekend. Mushers come from all over North America to race on Stuart Lake. Hudson Bay Mountain in Smithers is the site of the 32nd annual Schuss Boomer downhill ski race on April 2. It is a race for all ages, abilities and expertise, and is one of but a handful of surviving town downhill races left in Canada. Race categories include the Mini Schuss for 11-13 year olds, snowboarding, and recreational and competitive skiing.

In Fort St. John, don’t miss the annual High on Ice Winter Festival. Held from February 5-8, it offers something for all ages to enjoy on the Family Day long weekend. There will be ice carving displays by international talents, a locals’ ice carving competition, toboggan and snowshoe races, children’s activities, sleigh rides, an ice fishing derby, snowmobile rides, curling bonspiel, and the always popular ice slides in Centennial Park. The All Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert runs from February 7-13 and will attract nearly 60 teams of all ages and 2,000 people. The event is a great opportunity to play and be active during the winter months, or to just go out and support the teams.

14 Healthier You


PHOTO: ©Pat Suter, Picture A Time

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FitneSS CouRSeS FitNess kiCkBoxiNg CaNada (FkCi) mma CoNditioNiNg CoaCh Saturday February 27th, 7:30am – 3:30pm • Saturday April 16th, 7:30am – 3:30pm This workshop focuses on the striking stand-up component of MMA, teaching “real” boxing and kickboxing, punch, kick, and striking techniques as well as actual combinations designed by a certified competitive boxing/kickboxing coach and personal trainer. This course is direct register through FKCI. CEC’s are recognized by canfitpro and BCRPA.

CaNFitPro CPr a/aed Saturday February 27th, 4:00- 8:00pm • Saturday April 16th, 4:00- 8:00pm CPR & AED courses are accessible, affordable and attainable, designed to provide members of the public with the knowledge and technique that is needed to properly perform CPR in any unforeseen emergency. The CPR & AED courses were developed in accordance with recommendations from International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) Consensus on Science. Approved and Recognized by Provincial Regulators and Agencies, Health Canada, Transport Canada, Human Resources & Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada.

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CaNFitPro FitNess iNstruCtor sPeCialist (Fis) Course: (grouP FitNess) Friday March 18th, 6:00pm – 10:00pm • Saturday March 19th, 8:00am-6:00pm • Sunday March 20th, 8:00am-6:00pm This is a comprehensive 25-hour course that will increase your knowledge and confidence level to lead a group fitness class to music. Course materials including a Manual, DVD and study guide access to the online review course and both the written and practical exams are included.

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MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL: Body Image Impacts Mental Health


By Marianne Bloudoff

Population Health Dietitian Northern Health

Sandi DeWolf

Eating Disorders Clinic Northern Health

Marta Torok

Eating Disorders Clinic Northern Health

PHOTO: Kimberly Strain, courtesy of PEDAW

18 Healthier You


What is body image? It is the way each of us perceives our physical appearance, and includes our thoughts and feelings about how we look. Our selfesteem, or sense of self-worth, is often closely linked with body image. There are many things that can contribute to a negative body image. The mass media is one that many women can relate to. The media often presents women with an idealized image of female beauty that is impossible for the majority of women to attain. The images we often see are of thin, tall, photoshopped women, who represent only one body type that few real-life women possess. Body image is also influenced by family relationships, cultural beliefs, sports involvement, peers and past traumas. Women with a negative body image are more likely to suffer from depression, social isolation and low self-esteem.

Negative body image is a risk factor in developing disordered eating patterns and eating disorders. Up to 65 per cent of women report engaging in disordered eating patterns and 10 per cent of women display symptoms that meet the criteria of an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia. The physiological and psychological effects of disordered eating can have significant impacts on a woman’s physical and mental health, interpersonal relationships, day-today functioning, and quality of life. Eating disorders are complex conditions that most often require professional intervention. Understanding and awareness is important so women can understand how their own body image affects their life and others around them. Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors, such as food restriction.

If you think that you or someone you love has an eating disorder, please contact the Northern Health Eating Disorders Clinic at 250-565-7479.

Research has shown that daughters are more likely to have ideas about weight and dieting if their mothers participate in “fat talk” (self-degrading statements about one’s body, food, or eating) or dieting. Children pay attention to what parents say and do, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Parents are role models to their children, and can help support their children to focus less on their external appearance and more on overall wellness and personal successes. There are many things women can do to improve their body image, such as: • Appreciate everything your body can do, not what it can’t. • Remind yourself that true beauty is not defined by your physical appearance. • Choose to wear clothes that are comfortable and make you feel good. • View media messages with a critical eye. • Focus your time and energy on positive things instead of worrying about food, calories, or weight.

ONLINE RESOURCES: •Love Our Bodies, Love Ourselves: • Kelty Mental Health: • National Eating Disorder Information Centre: •


Healthier You





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FEATURED INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE CULTURAL WELL-BEING IS FOUNDATIONAL TO HEALTHY WELL-BEING. DID YOU KNOW... • Aboriginal peoples include three distinct populations: First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. • 30 per cent of the Aboriginal people in B.C. live within the Northern Health region. • Of the 300,000 people served by Northern Health, over 17 per cent are Aboriginal. • In the northwest, over 30 per cent of the population is Aboriginal. Celebrating culture, language, and traditional activities are key to healthy communities. Incorporating culture and language into activities and relationships leads to healthier, more resilient communities. In northern B.C., there is a great diversity of Aboriginal peoples, territories, languages, and cultures. This issue, we’re highlighting one of these languages – Plains Cree Y dialect (northern B.C. style) – spoken by the Saulteau First Nations in northeast B.C.


Kit-atámiská-tináwáw Tánisi kit-isihkáson? Tánsi Tánsi kitihtén?

I greet you all What is your name? How are you? What do you think?

To learn more about Indigenous languages and to hear recordings of words, phrases, stories, and songs, visit: • •F  irst Peoples’ Language Map of B.C. • • Inuktitut Tusaalanga


Healthier You



Dr. Anne Pousette


Dr. Anne Pousette

DR. ANNE POUSETTE WANTS TO GET US MOVING! WE HAD THE CHANCE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HER WORK AND PASSION FOR ACTIVE LIVING. Tell us a bit about yourself and Wellness in Northern B.C. (WINBC). I was born in Prince George and grew up in a very active family. We didn’t have screens and were usually outside and active. I have a degree in medicine from UBC and started a family practice in Prince George in 1983. Since selling my practice, I’ve been involved in occupational medicine and sports injury prevention work, devoted a lot of time to volunteer work, and recently began working as Executive Director of WINBC.

and capacity into northern communities. We support research around what works in northern B.C., share knowledge with communities, and try to address physical activity education gaps that currently exist in the north. Why is physical activity important to you? It comes down to feeling healthy. I’ve come to realize both in life and in my medical practice that people feel good when they’re as physically active as they can be. As long as people are active, out, and social – even if they have medical concerns – they tend to feel good! If we don’t recognize and value the importance of physical activity, we’re going to miss all of its benefits: physiological, social, mental, cognitive, and health benefits. Physical activity brings it all! What aspect of living in northern B.C. helps you to stay healthy?

My passion for physical activity started with my active upbringing. As I watched demographics and growth charts change in my family practice, I got very concerned about inactivity. I realized that as a community, we’re not doing what we need to do to stay active and so I got involved with organizations looking to change that.

For me, it’s the ease of being able to go and do things outside. We’ve got lots of options and easy access to natural environments. Take walking, for example. There’s just so much variation in where to walk and what you can see. You can do more than walk, of course, but physical activity can be as simple as that!

WINBC was born out of the 2015 Canada Winter Games as a Centre of Excellence to help promote physical activity in the north. WINBC aims to move projects forward and get the right knowledge

My go-to trail is the Ridgeview Trail in Prince George, where we walk almost every day. In the winter, we snowshoe or put on grippers and use poles. The rest of the year, we just walk the trail.

22 Healthier You



Dr. Anne Pousette

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Healthier You Spring

Body image and disordered eating

Profile: dr. anne Pousette


it’s been a journey

Minister shirley bond shares her thoughts on healthy living.

Spring event calen dar

Page 28

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 W  hat is your favourite food? Wild raspberries (we pick lots of them)

We are here for your grief journey.

 W  hat makes you happy? I’m happiest when I see others happy, excited, and busy. It’s fun to see other people having fun!  W  ho are your role models? Nancy Greene has had a really interesting impact on me. As a child, I read her bio countless times and her success as a female athlete More inspired me. Later in life, in her role as a senator, I’ve found that we’re advocating information for the same thing, like National Health & Fitness Day. Another role model is my mother, who constantly modelled physical activity. We were never inside. She walked us to school, was active with us, and then stayed active as she aged with a local walking group.  hat is your favourite thing to do W online? The thing I most dislike is having to be online! I email because I need to (it’s a modern world, after all) but I use the Internet as a tool, not as entertainment.  hat is your motto or personal W mantra? I don’t take something on unless I know that I can contribute in a meaningful way. We all have gifts and skills so I try to match my gifts and skills to whatever I put my time and energy into.

The SOLACE Centre 1506 Ferry Avenue, Prince George, BC 250.563.2551 •

Dr. Anne Pousette co-chaired the provincial Physical Activity Leadership Council that developed the recently released “Active People, Active Places” B.C. Physical Activity Strategy: “I had the privilege and challenge of bringing a northern perspective and the voice and ideas of people living in northern communities to the table, while helping to lead a provincial initiative that would be relevant to all British Columbians. The strategy is a reference point for communities and people to use as they plan their own local initiatives. It recognizes that increasing physical activity to enhance health needs to be focused on both people and supportive places (thus the title:


 W  hat is your favourite part of your job? Enabling others to take their ideas and get them off the ground – supporting people to act on the things they care about.

Active People, Active Places). The strategy also uses an equity lens to ensure that the needs and strengths of more vulnerable groups are addressed. It’s important for people in northern B.C. to know how significant their contribution was and how their perspectives and ideas helped frame the strategy. One third of all survey responses and consultation participants during the development of this strategy came from northern B.C.! Well done on your contributions to the strategy! We should all feel a sense of ownership and can use this strategy to shape action. Now let’s roll up our sleeves and work together to implement action in our community!”


Healthier You




What is human papillomavirus (HPV)? HPV is the most common sexually-transmitted infection in the world today. Approximately three out of four sexually active Canadians will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime. You can get HPV by having sex or skin-to-skin genital contact with someone who has the virus. What is the HPV vaccine? There are two vaccines approved for use in Canada, Cervarix® and Gardasil®, that protect against cervical cancer, anal cancer, and various other cancers. The Gardasil® vaccine also protects against genital warts. Who should be immunized? Girls in Grade 6 are provided the vaccine for free in B.C. If you missed your HPV vaccine, or if your daughter missed it in school, you may still be eligible for free vaccine. Girls and young women born in 1994 or later who missed getting the vaccine in school can contact their health care provider to get immunized for free.

24 Healthier You


HPV vaccine facts:

•Vaccination provides the best protection when given to girls aged 9-13. • The vaccine works best if received before a person becomes sexually active. • Those who are sexually active may still benefit from the vaccine. New for B.C. is that some boys and men are eligible for free vaccine, too! The HPV vaccine is provided free of charge to males aged 9-26 who are questioning their sexual orientation, have sex with men, are street involved, or are infected with HIV. For full eligibility criteria, visit the HPV page at The vaccine is also recommended for adult women up to 45 years old, boys and men 9-26 who do not meet the specified criteria above, and men 27 and older who have sex with men. For these three groups, the vaccine can be purchased at most pharmacies.

• The HPV vaccine is safe – over 175 million doses have been distributed worldwide. • You can’t get HPV from the vaccine. • Vaccination is up to 99 per cent effective at preventing the types of HPV that are responsible for most genital warts and HPV-related cancers.

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Phone: 250.562.9391 Toll Free: 1.800.562.9391 DL30828 SPRING 2016

Healthier You





Healthy Community Development, Northern Health

Breastfeeding course participant Dawn Giesbrecht feeds baby Oliver.


necessary. In order to meet this goal, the Baby Friendly Advisory Committee felt it was important to engage the community to support breastfeeding mothers. So, in November 2015, they offered a three day training using the World Health Organization breastfeeding course – a required course for every maternity nurse.

Living in one of northern B.C.’s smaller communities, you may not expect to be able to access globallyrecognized, high quality training opportunities for free, right on your own doorstep. Yet this is exactly what a very successful initiative in Quesnel has been able to do.

The three day course was held at the Quesnel & District Child Development Centre – a child-friendly space. “The room had couches and tables and a kitchen for the participants – which included five breastfeeding moms as well as eight interested service providers,” says Bev Barr, Pregnancy Outreach Program Coordinator and BFAC co-chair, who was tasked with coordinating this initiative. “It was originally planned for April but we decided to postpone until November and commit to advertising and promotion.”

The Baby Friendly Advisory Committee (BFAC) worked to successfully increase rates of initiation for breastfeeding at GR Baker Memorial Hospital in Quesnel. They recently widened their focus to increasing breastfeeding duration support in the community. The benefits of breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life are well researched, with numerous health benefits for mother and baby. The goal is to increase the number of babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life (as recommended by Health Canada). Exclusive means that they receive nothing but breast milk until they are six months old (i.e., no solid foods, no water or breast milk substitutes) unless it is medically

26 Healthier You


The group was determined to address potential barriers that are unique to breastfeeding moms. The final plan, in order to make the training accessible, included making the course free, choosing a location with free parking, making sure healthy lunches and refreshments were provided and – of most importance – ensuring child care arrangements for breastfeeding moms were in place. As a result, the final group included five breastfeeding moms among the attendees. “We all learned about breastfeeding while holding babies.”

“We all learned about breastfeeding while holding babies.”

Breastfeeding moms and babies at Quesnel Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge in October 2015.

“We had no idea how this would go,” says Bev, “and I was incredibly overwhelmed at how positive the response was, especially during that first day because of the high level of technical information. That day is very medically-focused, covering the physiology of breastfeeding, the nutritional composition of breast milk, and the health benefits to mother and baby. The next two days look at more practical issues and problem solving. The participants loved it all! At the end of the first day, they were talking about how much they hadn’t known and how much more they wanted to know.” “What we have now is a well-informed and knowledgeable cohort who can support success in initiation and duration of exclusive breastfeeding in the community. Already we have heard three service providers say they are using the information in every visit. The course, in some ways, is bringing back networks of breastfeeding support that used to exist in many families and communities. It’s vital we have this capacity and knowledge in the community.” It strikes me, as I reflect on my conversation with Bev, that this small, impactful project exemplifies some of the most important principles of Northern Health’s population health approach. The population health approach argues we need to get “upstream” on the river of diseases and causes of poor health in northern B.C. That is, addressing risk factors before they cause ill health is preferable to treating symptoms later on. What are the principles shown by the BFAC project? Do it right, not fast was obvious in the decision to wait and build readiness and interest in the audience group. Share what you have to offer and let the group do the work was evident in the willingness to offer a top-flight training opportunity and trust the group to rise to the occasion.

Understanding and addressing the specific barriers to participation that are unique to the group is also key. In this case, providing food, free parking, comfy chairs, and a willingness to have babies in the room addressed a set of barriers that can exclude nursing mothers. Capitalizing on the passion and knowledge professionals can bring was also prominent in this work. Partnership and collaboration were integral. In Quesnel, Northern Health was present in the room with professional expertise and insights and with concrete supports that addressed barriers to participation. At same time, Northern Health was sitting alongside its community members, learning with the community. Learning together is a way to build strong relationships and new connections that strengthen capacity to address issues of local importance. Underscoring this, of course, is the passionate commitment of the working group who have dedicated years of service to supporting breastfeeding best practices in Quesnel. The BFAC is collaborative and includes representation from a number of individuals and groups. These torchbearers have lit a fire under the participants. The only request of participants was that they would commit to sharing their new knowledge and implement it in their own personal and professional circles. Many are now inspired and seeking additional training because of this opportunity. The enthusiastic response of the participants to the training and their willingness to work with the new knowledge has given Quesnel a new and strong cadre of breastfeeding champions. The project also points the way to success. In a quiet and unassuming way, Northern Health professionals showed that partnership and population health are important parts of the good work in and by the community to improve the health of northerners.


Healthier You




FEBRUARY • Heart Month • Feb 1-7: Eating Disorders Awareness Week • Feb 8-13: All Native Basketball Tournament • Feb 4: World Cancer Day • Feb 8: Chinese New Year • Feb 14: Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Day

MARCH • National Nutrition Month • Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month • Mar 14-20: Brain Awareness Week • Mar 9: Dietitians Day • Mar 13: Daylight Savings Time starts • Mar 24: World TB Day

APRIL • Daffodil Month (Canadian Cancer Society) • Dental Health Month • Apr 18-25: National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week • Apr 25-29: National Immunization Awareness Week • Apr 7: World Health Day • Apr 22: Earth Day

28 Healthier You


Join the #healthynorth conversation!

Organizations like Northern Health use these national and regional days to share valuable health information. So, stay tuned to, follow us on Twitter (@Northern_Health), and like our Facebook page ( to learn more about these important events as they get close. Do you have a community event coming up that promotes health? Tell us about it! Email, post it to our Facebook page, or tweet us about it using the hashtag #healthynorth.


University Hospital of Northern B.C. auxiliary By UHNBC Auxiliary


One way to improve your overall health is to be happy, be needed, and be busy. A great way to do this is to get involved! Do this and you’ll notice a great side effect, too: making new friends! The Auxiliary to the University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George fulfils all of the above and more! The Auxiliary is an integral part of the hospital, providing many services. Our members man the information desks (found at the Emergency entrance and at the Main entrance); provide bingo and birthday teas to Jubilee Lodge; run

a library for patients and visitors; and make tray favours to decorate patients’ dinner trays. We also have quilters and knitters who provide many items to pediatrics and the neonatal care unit. Through our Gift Shop and Thrift Shop, we provide funding to purchase much-needed hospital equipment. In 2015, the Auxiliary donated just over $188,000! What a way to improve your health! Want to know more about volunteering with the Auxiliary to UHNBC? Visit


Healthier You




By Victoria Carter

Lead of Engagement and Integration, Aboriginal Health, Northern Health

JUDY GEROW IS A MEMBER OF THE KITSELAS FIRST NATION. WE ASKED HER ABOUT HEALTHY AGING. I’ve been in Band Council for over 20 years – two years as Chief and 18 as a councillor. I am a mother of six, a stepmother of an additional six, and I’m also raising my granddaughter. Even though I have always been thinking about my health, it was after I became a mother that I realized how important it was to take care of myself so that I was here for my children. Now that I am raising my granddaughter, I want to take care of myself to make sure I am here for her until she can be on her own. I try to watch what I eat and I don’t drink alcohol or smoke. I keep myself involved in various activities, many of which are physical such as my volunteer role in the fire department. I like to fish and hunt and through this, challenge my body to keep up with others and carry what I can. I garden, too. Family is also very important to me; we are a large and close family and look forward to getting together for family dinners. As I get older, I spend more time thinking about my life, what matters and how I can live this to the fullest.

30 Healthier You


My role model is my mother. She is 84 years old and she is still going strong. When she was in her 60’s, I had a hard time keeping up to her. She would get up at dawn and preserve fruits and vegetables until late at night. When I am out on the river or in the bush, I have time to reflect and focus on the land and the environment. I find that very spiritual and I get a sense of belonging when I’m out there. It’s like I can feel the presence of my ancestors who walked before me for thousands of years. A message I would like to share with others is that everyone needs to start taking care of themselves and be more conscious of what’s around them. Food, lifestyle, getting back to the land, going for walks, being at peace and enjoying what’s around you – these do matter.

More info: This is an excerpt from a longer interview with Judy about her health journey. Read the full interview on the Northern Health Matters blog at

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Healthier You Northern Health Spring 2016  

Healthier You Northern Health Spring 2016