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A Healthier You MAY 2015


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FOOD NORTH OF 55 page 15

Presented by Northern Health and Glacier Media



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Plan For Northern Garden Success

Working Together - Supporting Community Food Actions and Food Security in B.C.! Be “Reel” Safe! Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy! It Takes a Community to Raise a Garden The Power of Local Food to Create Healthier Communities How Can We Help? Cultivating Food Security Locally, Regionally and Provincially Foundation Updates Capital Update Staff Profile: Shelly Crack

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Use Your Muscles Where Your Food Is Grow Your Own Celebrating First Nations Traditional Foods Localize Your Diet Spring is in the Air! Time to Boost Tetanus Immunity Growing Food North of 55 Meet Me at the Farmers Market Make Men’s Health Your Business!


Spring into Action and Plan for an Active Summer

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Physical Activity

Use Your Muscles Where Your Food Is By Christine Glennie-Visser, Heal, Northern Health

Using muscles is about more than getting the recommended 30 minutes of exercise daily for adults. Research strongly reminds us that we need to sit less and move more and the term “sitting disease” is becoming more widely used. What does this have to do with food, you might ask? Two of the easiest things we can change personally to build and maintain health is healthy eating and active living. One of the messages we use to remind everyone to increase their physical activity throughout their day is “use muscles not motors,” which comes from the Canadian Society of Exercise Professionals and is part of the promotional messaging for the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines ( You may still be wondering what this has to do with food. Many of us use the motors in our vehicles to drive to the local grocery store as the easiest option to get groceries. There are many ways to be active and get your food – pushing a shopping cart around your local grocery store is just one option. HEAL (Healthy Eating and Active Living) in northern B.C. began in 2001 with a focus on getting people more active in order to be healthier. More importantly, though, HEAL focused on gardening as a means to both be more physically active and eat healthier. Gardening is a win-win way to be active! It provides not only full body exercise, blood, sweat and sometimes tears, but you get good food as a result of your efforts.

Credit: Christine Glennie-Visser

Perhaps you aren’t really into gardening and would rather get your fruits and vegetables by walking down to your local farmers market or pushing that cart around a local store. Most farmers markets offer meat and sometimes fish in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, but imagine the fun physical activity you would enjoy if you went hunting or fishing to stock your own freezer for the winter, or to enjoy a succulent grilled fish you have harvested from a northern lake, stream or ocean. As a parent raising a family, and now as a grandparent enjoying grandchildren, there is a wellknown philosophy that has been a constant current beneath my family’s relationship with food: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.” This is the perfect time of year to go outdoors, turn over some soil, plant and nurture some seeds, and look forward to the harvest. It is also the perfect time of year to grab a fishing pole, some bait and go fishing. Maybe you love hunting and you spend time in the summer getting ready for the fall hunting seasons. Whatever your connection to food, consider putting not only your own muscles to work to grow, gather and harvest your groceries but involve a child, too, so they can learn where their food really comes from and be more physically active while they learn.

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Event Calendar

Spring/Summer 2015: Your Daily Dose of Health and Wellness May • May 1-7: National Summer Safety Week • May 3-8: North American Occupational Safety and Health Week • May 4-10: National Mental Health Week • May 11-17: National Nursing Week • May 19-22: Aboriginal Awareness Week • May 25-31: Bike to Work Week • May 6: World Asthma Day • May 15: National Life Jacket Day • May 31: World No Tobacco Day

June • • • • • • •

Brain Injury Awareness Month Stroke Awareness Month Jun 15-19: Men’s Health Week Jun 4: Clean Air Day Jun 5: World Environment Day Jun 15: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Jun 21: National Aboriginal Day


All across Canada, specific dates are set aside to bring awareness to various health issues. These dates provide you with the chance to think about a specific aspect of your health. Here are some dates you might be interested in!

Do you have a community event coming up that promotes health? Tell us about it! Email:

Join the #healthynorth conversation!

• Jul 10-19: Prince George Summer Centennial Celebration • Jul 19-25: Drowning Prevention Week • Jul 28: World Hepatitis Day

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.

For more information, visit Health Canada’s Calendar of Health Promotion Days online at calend/index-eng.php.

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Northern climates mean gardeners have to make the most of three to four months of optimal growth. Despite the short season, though, northerners can take advantage of long summer days - and some savvy tips - to get their ground growing. “We catch up fairly quickly,” says Jos Van Hage, who owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George. For the green gardener hoping to cultivate a green thumb, it’s best to start with the basics. “One step at a time,” suggests Van Hage, who said that’s how he started when he moved to Prince George 35 years ago.

And the first step, he says, is knowing your home zone. The province is divided into growing zones and the lower the zone, the colder it is. Prince George is in zone three, compared to the Lower Mainland which sits at six or seven. The zone is especially important when picking and planting perennials Van Hage says, but with annuals it doesn’t matter as much. Vegetable, or produce, gardening is most popular in Prince George, whereas flowers are a favourite further south, he says. The smart gardener can lengthen the growing season by putting crop blankets over their plants when freezing temperatures return. Van Hage preaches patience when planting. Late May is the best time to put seed to ground because of temperature and moisture in the soil. While some start in April, he suggests keeping the seedlings inside or buying sprouts from your local store. “You have to protect them during the time that we still have the morning frost,” said Van Hage, though it doesn’t affect some things, like pansies or dormant shrubs that don’t have leaves yet. “It’s always the wise thing to do to allow the soil to warm up.” If the ground is only two or three degrees, Van Hage says the seed will just sit there. “Then it will rot before it can germinate,” he said, but by waiting “you don’t lose any time because it will start growing right away instead of sitting there dormant for a period of time.”

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Plan For

Northern Garden Success By Samantha Wright Allen, Prince George Citizen

Expensive plants are a waste of money if you haven’t spent the same effort on the dirt they dig their roots into, he says. Even if you think you know your land, Van Hage still suggests talking to an expert because this area has subzone and soil considerations. “I always preach this to my customer: the soil is the foundation of your plants.” And the soil in Prince George is dependent on location. “In the downtown area we got a lot of gravel and sand because rivers in the old days ran through there.” In the bowl, water passes through soil quickly, which means it also leaches the fertilizer. Gardeners should consider adding soil to help capture the water, he says. But in places like Beaverly and Pineview, there’s an overabundance of clay. The difference, he says, is moisture and drainage of that soil. “It’s very fertile but you have to work with it.” In the wetter regions, raised beds and mounted trees and shrubs help plants grow. He always tells new homeowners to make sure the water is draining the right direction - away from the house - and that they understand where the sunlight and shade hits. “Planning is the most important thing.”

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Grow Your Own By Samantha Wright Allen, Prince George Citizen

Growing local is vital to personal and community health. That’s a message longtime urban farming advocate Don Bassermann has brought to Prince George, bringing a focus on food security back to the basics. “The number one thing in my heart is grow your own,” says Bassermann, his voice excited as he does a mental walkthrough of his garden. He knows the space so well, pausing only to provide tips as he runs through the usual seed suspects. There are his three raspberry patches, the rhubarb patch, a stack of tomatoes in containers, and more in a greenhouse made entirely of recycled materials. In his raised beds, he harvests squash, peas, beans and herbs. All along the fences, heat-loving plants. And that just skims the surface. He realizes that might seem an overwhelming task to newcomers, so his advice is quite simple: “If you haven’t been gardening, start small,” says Bassermann, who served six terms on Prince George city council and is a board member of the Northern Agricultural Initiative Advisory Committee. “Herbs grow really, really well, particularly in containers.” Also, start at the base. “To a gardener, compost is gold.” The trick, he says, is to stack that compost high and eventually the mound captures the A Healthier You | 8 | May 2015

sun’s heat and starts to decompose. “I’ve changed the soil heat two or three degrees,” he says. “When those roots finally reach that decomposing material, it’s like somebody has opened the pantry door to the plant.” The benefits of gardening go well beyond the uptick in veggie consumption, he says. “It’s a fair bit of up-and-down bending, stretching, reaching, lifting, digging, pulling - which is modest exercise - and in gardening that has to happen nearly every day.” Eating your own harvest doesn’t need to stop in the garden. “There’s so much food naturally in the wild,” says Bassermann, adding he’ll usually harvest stinging nettles, fiddleheads, wild asparagus and saskatoon berries. “There’s so much foraged food available to us that most of us don’t know hardly anything about,” says Bassermann, who is teaching himself about wild mushrooms.

$5,000 to $8,000 out of a single yard. And he’ll keep trying to prove all of these points so that others can share his passion. “Part of what keeps me focused on moving forward is that we have a huge opportunity here in the north in agriculture. We just do not exercise the potential anywhere near what we could.”

The impact of being outdoors should not be ignored, either. “Just the effect of good quality bright light on our body and our mental health is really quite significant,” says Bassermann, adding it also gives you a chance to wave as neighbours pass by and that gardens are always a great conversation starter. “It’s a very social exercise.” That community focus can also be adopted by those who just can’t find the time, means or desire to grow their own. “The reality is many of us won’t grow our own or are not able to,” he says. In those cases, supporting local producers can provide benefits to families and communities. Even $10 out of a family’s weekly grocery budget would make a huge difference for local growers. “We will do a tremendous amount stabilizing and strengthening the local food suppliers,” he says of that approach. “I’m all about economic development.” It’s smart for a community to be less reliant on trucking in their food sources, says Bassermann, who has months’ worth of frozen meat and fresh preserves packed in three deep freezes. He also thinks gardening is a smart approach for families who could use a little extra income. For the last two years, he set out to communicate that message by example. He put an honour cart at the end of the driveway and sold the cornucopia he yielded from three yard gardens. “I was just trying to prove a point,” he says, adding he thinks a focused entrepreneur could bring in

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Aboriginal Health

Celebrating First Nations

Traditional Foods By Victoria Carter, lead for Aboriginal Health engagement and integration, Northern Health

Community garden in Cheslatta, B.C. Credit: Hilary McGregor

Many Elders and health providers from First Nations communities have shared their knowledge with me about traditional foods. I am repeatedly surprised by the flavour, nutritional value and health benefits of traditional foods. I tell my significant other, who is a member of the Kitselas First Nation, that his canned salmon is like “pure gold” because of how much work and care he puts into harvesting and processing the fish – not to mention how amazing it tastes! Working as a dietitian, I have learned nutritional information about traditional foods that I didn’t know before. For example, seaweed is an excellent source of protein, calcium, iron, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Moose is rich in protein and B vitamins. Most wild game is higher in nutrients than livestock and food products made from livestock like bologna and wieners. My children are Nisga’a and we were fortunate to be given some eulachon this year. Eulachon are small, oil-rich fish that spawn in rivers along the west coast. They are high in vitamin A and calcium. Vitamin A helps our bodies to fight infection and keeps our eyes and skin healthy while calcium helps to keep our bones and teeth strong.

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Seaweed drying in Kitkatla, B.C. Credit: Victoria Carter

In addition to the nutritional value of the food itself, another great advantage of traditional food gathering is the health benefits from harvesting such as connecting with the land and with one’s culture and family, as well as exercise. These are important aspects of holistic health and well-being. Gardening is another way to access fresh and nutritious food, connect with family, and be physically active. In my work, I notice more First Nations communities across the north developing community gardens and harvesting or growing traditional plants and medicines. Many of these communities are remote and have limited access to healthy store-bought foods, which is all the more reason to build on the knowledge and skills of Elders to ensure access to healthy food for all.

There is so much to learn, celebrate and sustain! For more information on traditional foods and nutrition, check out the First Nations Traditional Foods Fact Sheets from the First Nations Health Authority Wellness/Traditional_Food_Facts_Sheets.pdf Author bio: Victoria Carter is a dietitian and works for Northern Health Aboriginal Health as the lead for engagement and integration. She is an adopted member of the Nisga’a Nation and her Nisga’a name is Nox Aama Goot (mother of good heart).

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Healthy Eating

Localize Your Diet By Lise Luppens, Community Nutrition, Northern Health

There’s something neat about eating local food. Somehow, food that you have grown, fished, hunted, gathered, or gotten from someone you know is just … better. But why does it seem better? Pop quiz! a. Do you feel a sense of pride and self-reliance in growing, getting or “putting up” your own food? b. Do you feel local food is somehow more real, more nourishing, and more satisfying? c. Do you value food travelling fewer “food miles”? d. Are you pumped about supporting your local producers and community members? e. Do you appreciate knowing where your food comes from? f. Do you enjoy the social aspects of local food and the learning that is shared? g. All of the above. For me, it’s “all of the above” but if you answered “yes” to any of these questions, that sounds like a good enough reason to include some local yumminess in your routine.

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Northern Health Tip: Unhealthy foods can be addictive. Did you know that sugars and fats cause the same chemical reaction in the body as other addictive substances like alcohol and tobacco? Our feelings can affect our healthy habits how much we move and the foods we eat. How can we include local foods in our diet at this time of year? What we have available to us depends on many variables: where we live, our personal connections, our food storage equipment, and our skills and knowledge. It also requires a commitment to preserve foods in the summer and fall.

Stress, depression, anxiety and mood disorders can cause us to eat without thinking about our health.

Last year saw me freezing raspberries, rhubarb, cherries, plums, beans and beet greens; canning beets, pear chutney and apple butter; and drying fruit purées into fruit leather. We also put aside boxes of apples and bags of potatoes and filled the freezer with meat from my husband’s first deer hunt and from a local pig project. During the late spring, we find ourselves working through the last of these foods. So what to make from those preserved goodies? Here are a few ideas from my own kitchen in Terrace: • Dinner (and leftovers for lunch) might include Haida Gwaii deer, Remo Harvest potatoes, and home canned beets (topped with not-so-local feta cheese and olive oil). • The squashes on my counter might make an appearance in the form of a creamy squash soup or spiced squash muffins. • The cherries and berries in my freezer might be reincarnated into a fruit crisp that would make a nice dessert, breakfast or snack. • There’s still a wee bit of jarred salmon left that might be nice to have on crackers – an easy snack or lunch. Oh, dear! All this writing about food is making me hungry. Time to fix something to eat! For more ideas and inspiration, consider checking out the following resources: • BC Association of Farmers’ Markets ( • Produce Preservation Program ( May 2015 | 13

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Spring is in the Air!

Time to Boost Tetanus Immunity By Beth Munk, public health nurse, Northern Health

With the temperatures warming, outdoor activities including farming, hunting, gardening, and the use of heavy machinery put us at greater risk for serious cuts, scrapes, animal bites and burns. These injuries also carry a higher risk of contamination with tetanus, though infection may also occur following small, seemingly insignificant wounds. Tetanus is a vaccine-preventable illness caused by a neurotoxin produced by the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium tetani. Tetanus bacteria are found in spore form in soil, dust, and manure, and have also been detected in the intestines of animals and humans. Cases of tetanus occur when spores from the environment are introduced into a wound and grow anaerobically at the site of the injury. The most frequently reported causes of tetanus infection are lacerations, followed by animal bites and injection drug use. In rare cases, tetanus has also occurred after bowel surgery or aspiration of soil and feces. The fatality rate associated with tetanus is one of the highest of any vaccine-preventable A Healthier You | 14 | May 2015

illness; up to one in five people may die. The disease occurs worldwide but is rare in Canada due to our national immunization program. There is no cure for tetanus and treatment consists of wound/ supportive care and medications to ease symptoms. Although there is no cure, tetanus can be prevented through routine immunization with a publicly-funded vaccine. In those who are up-to-date with immunizations, infection with tetanus is uncommon and typically much milder. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends routine childhood immunization against tetanus and routine tetanus and diphtheria boosters for adults. To find out if your tetanus immunizations are up-to-date, contact your local public health unit. Visit for local health unit contact information as well for more information on tetanus and other vaccine-preventable illnesses.


Growing Food North of 55 By Karen Mason-Bennett, Northern Environmental Action Team

Every year, while the rest of the province is celebrating the beginning of spring and counting down the days until gardening season starts, we northern dwellers are avoiding pictures of crocuses on Facebook, counting our seeds, and waiting for the next snowfall. At times like this, it’s easy to feel like growing your own food is a pipe dream for northern residents, when it’s anything but! Northern residents can grow a surprising number of fruit and vegetables along with wheat and canola that are the staples of the agricultural economy north of the 55th parallel. Indeed, there are varieties of grapes that grow as far north as Fort Nelson and plenty of cherries, apples and berries in between. What we lose in the number of growing days we make up for in hours of daylight. Like Indiana Jones, northern gardeners simply need to choose their plants wisely. Although our outdoor gardening season starts late, there is ample opportunity to start seeds indoors in the weeks leading up to planting day. This is a great way to control the types of plants that you are using and to control fertilizers and soil amendments like peat moss and vermiculite. Starting seeds indoors is also a great way to involve kids in covert math and science lessons. Here are some key tips for northern gardening: • Choose seeds that come to maturity in less than 85 days. This will give the fruit enough time to ripen completely for harvest before the frost returns. • Plant leafy greens, such as spinach or kale, in the fall. This will give you multiple harvests over the summer.

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Simply mound your rows and plant seeds along the top. Snow will melt off the top first and as soon as the seeds are warm enough they’ll sprout! Water by hand either late at night or first thing in the morning. This will minimize water lost to evaporation and reduce overwatering. Better yet, harvest rain in a rain barrel and use that to water your plants. Compost. It’s basically free fertilizer! A single application of compost can positively affect plants for up to ten years and it’s a great way to minimize chemical use. Join a community garden. This group of gardeners is a great resource for hard-earned local advice. Stretch before and after weeding, drink lots of water and don’t forget your sunscreen.

Growing your own food is kind of like having kids: equal parts pride and frustration. Don’t worry; your failings this year are your foundations for success next year! Be honest with your time and aspirations. Do you want to have fresh salad all summer? Then grow different lettuces with a couple of buckets of tomatoes. Do you want to make pickles or salsa? Calculate the yield on your plants to ensure you will have enough. Do you work 12-hour shifts, six days a week? Maybe a berry patch with its great yield and minimal effort is the thing for you. Set yourself up to succeed and be accepting of failure. You will not be Martha Stewart straight out of the gate and that’s perfectly OK. Remember next year is another opportunity to try again. Personally, I’m entering my sixth year on a quest to grow tomatoes, but who’s counting? Whether you have buckets of produce or you get one salad, nothing tastes better than the pride of homegrown!

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Healthy Communities

Meet Me at the

Farmers Market By BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

There’s something very unique about farmers markets. They’re a throwback to simpler days when we knew where our food came from and who tended to it. B.C.’s farmers markets are going strong with over 125 markets dotted across the province and northern B.C. is home to some of the best! One of the special things about markets is that no two are the same; each one is a unique reflection of the community and region. While you may find sustainably harvested seafood at one market, you will find freshly baked bread from locally grown grain at another. There is no better place to find unique varieties of produce, one-of-a-kind treats and new flavours. Plus, it’s a fun outing any day of the year, whether you are snuggled up grabbing a hot chocolate, stocking up on party supplies for a cheese plate, or loading up on berries to carry you through until next season. Here’s a list of farmers markets in northern B.C. you don’t want to miss this season. Visit for more market details. Farmers markets in northern B.C. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Chetwynd Farmers’ Market Dawson Creek Farmers’ Market Fort St. James Farmers’ Market Fort St. John Farmers’ Market Hazelton Farmers’ Market Houston: Pleasant Valley Community Market Prince George Farmers Market Prince Rupert: Salmonberry Farmers’ Market Quesnel Farmers’ Market Smithers: Bulkley Valley Farmers’ Market Terrace: Skeena Valley Farmers’ Market Tlell Farmers’ Market Valemount Farmers Market Vanderhoof Farmers’ Market Wells and Area Community Association

Four reasons to visit your local farmers markets 1. Fresh food tastes better! Farmers markets are the best source for fresh, local food. Have you tried a juicy tomato fresh off the vine or sweet strawberries picked at the peak of the season? Trust us, this alone is worth a trip to the market. While more and more markets are going strong year-round, most begin in May and run until October. 2. Unique finds One of the neat things about farmers markets is the variety. From produce to artisan goods, markets offer products you can’t find at your typical grocery store such as specialty meats and cheeses, varieties of produce such as lemon cucumbers, sxusem berries, and blue potatoes, and delicious baked goods like organic, flourless brownies! 3. Supporting your local economy Supporting the farmers market helps secure farmland and fresh produce for future generations. Farmers markets keep the local food philosophy thriving while encouraging and supporting small businesses and community economic development. 4. Community spirit Markets have become a place of gathering for many - a space to connect, learn, socialize, or relax with friends, family and neighbours.

Credit for all photos (except top photo): Brian Harris A Healthier You | 16 | May 2015

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Men’s Health

Make Men’s Health Your Business! By Holly Christian, Men’s Health, Northern Health

This year, as Father’s Day approaches, think of the ways in which you can give the fathers (and other men) in your life a gift that supports their health. In fact, the timing is perfect! Did you know that the week leading up to Father’s Day this year (June 15-21) will be Canada’s second annual Men’s Health Week? When a man is not healthy, he, his family, his friends and his community are all impacted. This can be an inability to work and the loss of income to support the family, an inability to participate in community and society through disability, or from the repercussions of mental illness, which are widespread. Men in northern B.C. are known to have poorer health than northern women as well as other men in Canada. By bringing attention to this fact, we want to encourage men and their families to be advocates for their own health, to take steps to improve their health today, and to access the services available to support the prevention of illness and disease down the road. Don’t wait until you’re already sick or injured to make your health a priority!

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So, support dad, grandpa, uncle Joe and his buds by talking with them about their health and how much they and their health mean to you. When looking for gift ideas this June 21st, look for something with healthy benefits that will last long after Men’s Health Week and Father’s Day! • Cook a “man-friendly”, healthy meal and enjoy it together as a family. Northern Health has a Pinterest page ( with great recipes including rainbow potato salad, man cave chowder, and how to build a better summer burger! • Get the men in your life out of the house and into nature. Hike or walk a trail, paddle down the local stream, or just toss the ball in the yard. • Give a man the gift of your time. Chat, laugh, tell stories, and let him know you care! • Support healthy hobbies. Give the man in your life outdoor gear or sports equipment, walking shoes, a good book, or some music he can move to. Men’s health matters to all of us in northern B.C., because our men matter! Make sure they know it!

Physical Activity

Spring into Action and Plan for an Active Summer By Dr. Anne Pousette, Executive Director, WINBC

The arrival of warmer temperatures, green grass and new growth is energizing and inspires us to get outside. It is also a great time to consider how we can increase our physical activity levels and think about gardening and other sources of local food. Why should we focus on being active? We know that physical activity improves our physical and mental health and is a big contributor to preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer. In Canada, we have become more sedentary over the past 50 years due to technology in the workplace and home, the availability of automobiles for transit, and through increased leisure time and access to screen-based entertainment. The 2014 Report Card on Physical Activity of Children and Youth in Canada indicated that only 7% of 5-11 year olds and 4% of 12-17 year olds are sufficiently active for normal growth and development. We now know that the health risk of being sedentary is added to the risk of not being active enough to promote health. Shutting off the screens and getting up and moving is essential to improving the health of Canadians. We owe it to our children and youth to change these statistics.

Fun Facts: • Wild blueberries are an excellent source of beta carotene, riboflavin, vitamin C, folate and fibre. • Gardening is a moderately vigorous activity that works all the major muscle groups in the upper and lower limbs, the back and abdomen. At the same time, it improves flexibility, provides resistance training and is a weight-bearing activity that contributes to bone health. Resources available to assist you: • Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines ( • The Physical Activity Line (PAL) is a provincial physical activity counselling service available in B.C. that provides trusted and practical information for individuals and families from a qualified exercise professional. Call tollfree 1-877-725-1149 or visit • If you are planning a big change in your activity level, ask your primary care provider or family physician for their recommendations regarding increasing physical activity or a physical activity prescription.

Spring and summer provide us with renewed opportunities to be active, both informally and through participating in local recreation or sport activities. For children and youth, providing opportunities for active unstructured play outdoors will result in fun, increased activity levels, and the development of physical literacy. There is evidence that activity outdoors where we can engage with the natural environment and green spaces has additional benefits that improve our mood, health and sense of well-being. Physical literacy is the development of movement skills that enable us to safely move in our environments. This is a lifelong process, but the basic fundamental skills are acquired in our early years through play and activities. Spring and summer provide opportunities for families to do activities together that enhance physical literacy and health for the entire family. Consider walking to local playgrounds as regular events in your week. Check out trails and natural parks in your community and go exploring. Consider planting a garden and helping the younger generation experience the thrill of growing their own food. As summer arrives, think about the places you might pick wild berries. Northern B.C. has wild blueberries, huckleberries, saskatoons, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, high-bush and low-bush cranberries, moss berries (crow berries), and strawberries. The high nutrient value of wild berries, the amazing flavour, and the fun and activity involved in the outing collectively provide a great experience and a health-enhancing activity.

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Healthy Communities

Working Together - Supporting Community Food Actions and Food Security in B.C.! By Loraina Stephen, Community Nutrition, Northern Health and Brent Mansfield, director, BC Food Systems Network

2015 will be a special year for local food issues in northern B.C.! In June, the BC Food Systems Network ( is bringing its 17th annual gathering to Prince George, the furthest north that this event has ever been held. From June 25-28, 2015, local food producers, community organizers, consumers, academics, diverse agencies, and First Nations champions will gather to participate in workshops and share their knowledge and experiences with community-based food projects. The gathering brings together BC Food Systems Network members and community partners to learn from one another and build the relationships needed to collectively advance food policy and increase food security in our province. The Network’s annual gatherings are an important part of their mission to create healthy, just and sustainable food systems in B.C. by strengthening connections, nurturing capacity and engaging in policy development. Do you want to help build a sustainable food system? Do you want to support local food producers in your community? Consider connecting with the BC Food Systems Network or one of northern B.C.’s regional or local food networks!

Credit (for both small photos): Christine Glennie-Visser

• HEAL Network: Established in 2001 and now based out of Northern Health, the HEAL Network is working to improve the health of northern communities by supporting healthy eating, food security, active living, and overall healthy living initiatives. HEAL works together in partnership with community groups, Northern Health programs, and granting streams to move ideas into action. The network strives to connect, support, share, and inspire. • FARMED: Established in 2006 and based out of Quesnel, FARMED ’s mission is to promote awareness of agriculture in the North Cariboo, support local farmers to market their products, and connect consumers to the rich agricultural experiences and products available in the North Cariboo region. FARMED’s sister organization is the Growing North Cariboo Society, a network of people, agencies, and organizations exploring food security in the region. • Beyond the Market: Beyond the Market supports local food and agriculture economic development along the Highway 16 corridor from Prince Rupert to the B.C.Alberta border. The initiative is based out of Community Futures Fraser-Fort George. Beyond the Market trains and promotes local farmers and provides a wealth of information for consumers from finding local farms to discovering what’s in season! • Nechako Valley Food Network: Based out of Vanderhoof, the Nechako Valley Food Network supports community members to grow and eat locally. They create and circulate a directory of local producers, support local farm-to-school initiatives and played a key role in the development of the Vanderhoof Community Garden and Vanderhoof Farmers Market.

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Injury Prevention

Be “Reel” Safe! Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy!

Credit: Chloe Curtis

By Shellie O’Brien, Injury Prevention, Northern Health

Winter feels like a distant memory! Lakes are open, bulbs are blooming, and everything looks so green! For those who love the outdoors, there are an abundance of aquatic activities available to enjoy, from boating to swimming and kayaking to fishing! Northern British Columbia, with its rugged landscape and pristine wilderness, provides exceptional fishing ground! There are thousands of lakes, streams and tidal waters to fish - whether for fun or for fresh food! Looking for a fantastic way to spend a family weekend together being active outside and learning about local food opportunities? Then don’t miss the 16th annual B.C. Family Fishing Weekend from June 19-21. During that weekend, residents of Canada can go fishing in most of B.C.’s lakes and non-tidal streams without the need to buy or carry a freshwater fishing licence! With all the excitement of warmer temperatures and the thrill that comes with a weekend of outdoor fun, it is important to remember to stay safe so that you can get back out there and continue to enjoy the beautiful weather, lakes and streams. Here are some important facts about water safety to keep in mind this season.

• Drownings are most likely to occur in natural bodies of water such as rivers and lakes. • The majority of these drownings occur on weekends from May to August. • The highest proportion of incidents occur during recreational activity, most commonly swimming, fishing or boating. • In B.C., water-related fatality rates are highest among men and young adults. • 90% of boating drownings can be prevented by wearing a life-jacket or personal flotation device (PFD). Getting out to the lake makes for great summer memories! Make sure to have a safe and fun time on and near the water by following these safety tips: • Boat and swim sober. • Ensure everyone wears a life-jacket or PFD. • Ensure all children under age six wear life-jackets when in, on, or around water. • Learn how to swim and take a first aid and CPR course. For all you fishermen, women, and children out there, and for everyone enjoying your time on or near the water, have a safe and fun time! In the words of, remember to “have a word with yourself” and don’t forget to pack your life-jackets.

May 2015 | 21

| A Healthier You

Healthy Communities

It Takes a Community

to Raise a Garden By Vince Terstappen, health promotions project assistant, Northern Health

The very first line of Growing Together, a knowledge-sharing book created as part of the Vanderhoof Community Garden project, reads: “It takes a community to raise a garden.” These simple words capture the essence of the Vanderhoof Community Garden and the journey that it has taken from a small idea to a space that celebrates local food, community, and learning.

covered space to gather, two greenhouses, dozens of raised beds, on-site water and a wheelchair-accessible flush toilet, and hundreds of smiling community members. Partners had come together, volunteers devoted thousands of hours to planning and work bees, kids got their hands dirty, seniors shared their knowledge, and the end result was a beautiful space to gather, grow, share, and learn.

“This is truly a community project,” says Maya Sullivan, one of the drivers behind the Vanderhoof Community Garden. “The fact that a small seed of an idea could become such an amazing space for connection, such a healthy community space, continues to amaze me.”

The garden is a place to work together

The story of the Vanderhoof Community Garden is one of dedicated volunteers, extensive partnerships, overcoming challenges, and celebration. The small seed that grew into this beautiful space was planted over 10 years ago when a small group of community members volunteered their time and energy to start a modest community garden near the Vanderhoof Community Museum. That particular location was never ideal – lots of moose, heavy clay soil, no space for tools, and spring runoff that washed away manure that had been tilled into the garden – but a number of passionate volunteers kept that project going for a number of years. After a particularly difficult spring in 2012 when melting snow created a creek through the garden that carried off valuable soil, the group went back to the drawing board. It is from this drawing board that the current community garden, officially opened with a harvest celebration in September 2014, emerged. A look around at the grand opening event revealed a magnificent garden, a beautiful A Healthier You | 22 | May 2015

The list of project partners for the beautiful community garden in Vanderhoof is impressive. The Nechako Valley Food Network and their amazing volunteers provided the spark that began this project, the energy to keep pushing it forward, and a hub for interested individuals and groups to connect and collaborate. The Integris Community Foundation provided the first significant grant to breathe life into the idea. The District of Vanderhoof and School District 91 collaborated to find and donate a new site for the garden. The Farm to School program at WL McLeod Elementary School connected with the garden to produce local food for hot lunches. The Seniors Connected program became involved to improve accessibility in the garden, create mentorship opportunities, and share knowledge. Northern Health provided grant funding to support the initiative. Countless local businesses and volunteers donated time, materials, expertise, and labour to the project. The garden would not have happened without this support and, importantly, the garden continues to attract new partners, ideas, and projects.

The garden is a place for everyone Early on in the project, accessibility was a key consideration. The raised beds – most of which were built by local high

school students – were created to be wheelchair accessible and to minimize bending. The garden includes an accessible flush toilet, a covered structure for respite, and shared tools thanks to a recent donation. The raised beds and garden plots themselves are open to everyone who signs up at no charge. The community garden is successful in part because it has eliminated so many potential barriers to entry and welcomes gardeners of any age, skill level, neighbourhood, or income level.

The garden is a place to connect The garden creates a space where people can connect, meet, and share knowledge. These people may not otherwise have a reason to meet but local food and the community garden provide that reason. The garden site supports this connection. It is central, close to schools and homes, and connects to the Vanderhoof community trail system.

The garden is a place to get away With a beautiful view of the Nechako River and lots of space to enjoy, the garden is also a place for relaxation and quiet reflection. With nothing but the sound of the river to distract you, the garden provides a peaceful place for community members to spend a warm summer evening reconnecting with themselves and with nature.

The garden is a place to grow When talking to volunteer organizers and garden users, it is surprising how long it takes before the issue of food actually comes up! All of the connections, partnerships, and learning have created a bounty of local food! A walk through the raised beds and greenhouse structures reveals tomatoes, peppers, squash, leafy greens, strawberries, peas, carrots, beets, and more! There are plans for potatoes, fruit trees, and berry bushes this year. Individual gardeners take their bounty home and the students, parents, and teachers from WL McLeod Elementary School harvest their crops and spend a day preserving so that the kitchen staff can use them in hot lunches throughout the year.

The garden is a place to learn On any given day in the Vanderhoof Community Garden, you might see a class of elementary school students with mentors, a group of seniors sharing their vast knowledge, or simply two people – previously strangers – swapping tips. Some of this learning has been formalized as the local Seniors Connected group created a book, Growing Together, that shares their collective 600 years of local gardening knowledge. There are plans to offer gardening workshops in the space this year. With all of these amazing garden qualities, it’s no wonder that the garden organizers are still in awe of how far they’ve come. “This has truly evolved beyond my wildest dreams,” shared Maya Sullivan, “and it keeps evolving based on what different members of the community bring to it.” That evolution will surely be fun to watch, as despite all of the incredible successes of the Vanderhoof Community Garden thus far, there is still half of the garden site left to be cultivated and transformed. The growing, learning, sharing, and connecting have just gotten started! May 2015 | 23

| A Healthier You

Healthy Communities

The Power of Local Food to Create Healthier Communities By David J. Connell, Associate Professor, University of Northern British Columbia (

When someone thinks about “health,” they usually associate it with the physical and emotional condition of a person. But “health” can also be used in association with a place. Research has shown that a person’s health is not just about the absence of disease; it is much more than that. BC Healthy Communities ( lists a range of external factors that influence one’s health. All of us become healthier when there is support for: • • • • • • • • • • •

Healthy lifestyles A vibrant economy Affordable housing Protected parks and green space Accessible community services Thriving neighbourhoods Clean air and water A sustainable environment Ethnic and cultural diversity Healthy public policy Engaged citizens

To this list we can add local food.

A Healthier You | 24 | May 2015

Northern Health Tip: Do you sit for more than 6 hours a day in total? Think of the time you spend: • • •

Sitting when you drive to/from work (or school) Sitting at work/school Leisure time (after work/school)

Long times of inactivity is not only unhealthy, but is dangerous to health. Evidence and messaging is emerging to raise awareness of the sitting diseases. Take a STAND against TOO MUCH SITTING.

Many people have (re)discovered the power of local food to act as a catalyst for positive change, for building healthier communities. Here are only some of the most important connections that make local food a powerful force for health:


Locally-produced fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, and meats that are bought locally are usually fresher. As soon as produce is picked it starts to lose its nutritional value, which means that fresher foods are more nutritious and better for one’s personal health.


There are direct benefits to buying food from local farmers and processors. The general rule is that more of the dollars that you spend on local food stay local. This makes for a healthier local economy.

and ask questions about how the food is grown, like whether pesticides and herbicides are used. And farmers answer these questions with a firsthand understanding of their operations. Local residents can even visit the farm. Markets also often bring people to main street or their local downtown area where they can spend money at other local businesses. How we grow, process, distribute, sell, buy, and share our food says a lot about who we are. Food provides not only an intimate connection with our personal health but also with the people, land, and climate of our immediate areas. Local food is a connector. It builds relations in our immediate surroundings among people, farmers, landscape, soils, water, and climate. And local food makes these connections like no other activity that we do on a daily basis.


Selling and buying food locally fosters interaction among neighbours. Farmers talk directly with the local owners and managers of grocery stores, restaurants, and institutions. Local residents get to know the farmers who are producing their food. These interactions help to increase familiarity and build trust, which are the foundations of healthy social relations.


When a person cares more for where the food they buy comes from, then they also tend to care more for how that food is grown. This closer relationship helps to foster a sense of connection to the land and the climate, which can lead to greater care for a healthy environment.


If people want locally-produced food then we must protect our local farmland. Protecting local farmland helps to contain urban sprawl, which means more compact, healthier physical spaces.

Food Security

A strong, vibrant local food system decreases dependence on supplies coming from around the world. This improves food security. All of these connections can be seen at farmers markets. Farmers markets are the most visible and accessible part of a local food system. Shoppers can talk directly with farmers

May 2015 | 25

| A Healthier You

How Can We Help?

How Can We Help?

By Chelan Zirul, regional manager, health promotions & community engagement, Northern Health Northern Health has a variety of services available all across the north to support your health and wellness. Our services are more than acute care. We support healthy community development, public health and mental wellness. One of the most important things you can do for your health is be aware of who to call when you need help. We encourage you to rip this page out and post it on your fridge so it’s always close at hand!

My family physician’s phone number is:

• • •


Medical imaging, such as X-ray, is available near you. Please call:

In case of emergency, call 9-1-1. Here is a listing of services available in the northern interior area, not including Prince George. More information on all services listed below is available at or you can visit CommunityContactsFacilities/NorthernInterior.aspx for a listing of all contacts in your region. Not in the northern interior? We’ve got you covered! • For a similar listing of services from the northeast health service delivery area, check out the August 2014 edition of A Healthier You. • For services in the northwest, check out the November 2014 edition. • For services in Prince George, check out the February 2015 edition. Past issues of A Healthier You are available online at Aboriginal patient liaisons can help you to navigate the health system. • • •

Burns Lake and area: Ken Solonas, 250-692-2474 Prince George and area: June McMullen, 250-565-2364 Quesnel and area: Lyndsey Rhea, 250-985-5812

Community care licensing supports the health, safety and wellbeing of adults and children in licensed care facilities, such as day care and residential care facilities. • •

Prince George: 250-565-2150 Or, call Enquiry B.C. to contact the office nearest you: 1-800-663-7867

Environmental health officers can help you with issues that affect the health of the general public, such as food-borne illness outbreaks and sewage entering neighbouring properties. • • •

Prince George: 250-565-2150 Quesnel: 250-983-6810 Vanderhoof: 250-567-6900

Home and community care promotes independence, choice and dignity for northerners through in-home supports, respite, assisted living, residential care, and hospice palliative and end-of-life care. Please contact the office nearest you for more information: • • • • • • • • •

Burns Lake: 250-692-2468 Fort St. James: 250-996-8971 or 250-996-8201 Fraser Lake: 250-669-8960 or 250-669-7742 Granisle: 250-697-2251 Mackenzie: 250-997-3263 (ask for home care nurse) McBride: 250-569-2251 ext. 234 Quesnel: 250-983-6850 Valemount: 250-566-9138 ext. 241 Vanderhoof: 250-567-2211

Lab testing services are available near you. For hours, please call: • • • • •

Burns Lake: 250-692-2418 Fort St. James: 250-996-8201 ext. 2253 Fraser Lake: 250-699-7742 Mackenzie: 250-997-8504 McBride: 250-569-2251 ext. 687 A Healthier You | 26 | May 2015

• • • • • • • •

uesnel: 250-991-7580 Q Valemount: 250-566-9138 ext. 2002 Vanderhoof: 250-567-6240 Burns Lake: 250-692-2421 Fort St. James: 250-996-8201 ext. 2228 Fraser Lake: 250-699-7742 Mackenzie: 250-997-3263 ext. 232 McBride: 250-569-2251 ext. 687 Quesnel: 250-985-5680 Valemount: 250-566-9138 ext. 225 Vanderhoof: 250-567-2211 ext. 23

Mental health and addictions community programs offer services such as crisis response, intake, support and education. To learn what is available near you, please call: • • • • • • • • •

Burns Lake (main office): 250-692-2449 Burns Lake (youth): 250-692-7577 Fort St. James: 250-996-8411 Fraser Lake: 250-699-7742 Mackenzie: 250-997-8517 McBride: 250-569-2251 ext. 2038 Quesnel: 250-983-6828 Valemount: 250-566-9898 Vanderhoof: 250-567-5994

24 Hour Crisis Line: 1-888-562-1214 1-800-suicide: 1-800-784-2433 Public health nurses can help you with adult, women’s, infant, children and family health, including communicable disease prevention and control, dental, hearing, school and youth, and speech and language services. Call your local health unit or health centre: • Burns Lake: 250-692-2400 • Fort St. James: 250-996-8201 • Fraser Lake: 250-699-7234 • Granisle: 250-697-2251 • Mackenzie: 250-997-3263 • McBride: 250-569-2251 • Quesnel: 250-991-7571 • Valemount: 250-566-9138 • Vanderhoof: 250-567-6900 In addition to what is available locally, there are also a variety of regional services available: • Check out the Community Health Information Portal to learn about key issues that affect our health: • The patient care quality office is here to help you obtain quality health care. If you have a complaint and cannot resolve it with the person who provided the service, please call toll-free: 1-877-677-7715, or visit: PatientCareQualityOffice.aspx • Population health provides lots of information on healthy living, including healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco reduction, injury prevention, men’s health, and more: AboutUs/PositionStatementsAddressingRiskFactors.aspx • IMAGINE grants support local health initiatives. Learn more at ImagineGrants.aspx • Call HealthLinkBC to talk to a registered nurse, a dietitian, or a pharmacist. They can be reached at 8-1-1, or visit • Northern Health is always looking for professionals to join our team in your community. Visit today to learn more! • NH Connections provides low-cost bus transportation if you have to leave your home community to access health services. Learn more at

Healthy Communities

Cultivating Food Security Locally, Regionally and Provincially By Loraina Stephen, Community Nutrition, Population Health

So what is “community food security” anyway? “Community food security exists when all citizens obtain a safe, personally acceptable, nutritious diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes healthy choices, community self-reliance and equal access for everyone.” (Adapted from Bellows and Hamm, 2003) Improving community food security and sustainable food systems as well as decreasing food insecurity at the household level is a growing area of interest for many communities and organizations in the north and across B.C.! Improving community food security involves supporting collaboration across many sectors, areas, and approaches that promote positive impacts for health and well-being where we all live, learn, work and play. This collaboration is very important because food security links to our health through healthy eating but also to economic development and the environment, as local foods have lower food miles and thus less environmental impact.

- Regionally: We see growing interest across the region in Farm to School programs and farmers markets. There are direct and indirect health, economic, social, and community benefits from these larger scale, systems change initiatives. An increasing number of agriculture plans are including links to food security and supporting local and regional food production. Local governments are taking notice and this may influence Sustainability and Official Community Plans in the future. Northern Health has supported community grants on healthy eating and food security for many years and community interest is growing ( healthylivingcommunities/imaginegrants.aspx). - Provincially: In B.C., Public Health is taking a leadership role in supporting food security by developing the firstin-Canada Food Security Model Core Program. This is unique and provides program and planning guidance for health authorities to further their work on food security.

What can we do to improve food security in northern B.C.? Everyone has a role to play – food security is everyone’s business. Spend some of your food dollars on locally produced food or commit to spending a percentage of your total food purchase dollars (10%) locally. Join in the local, regional or provincial food security initiatives that are underway near you to support healthy living. You can make a difference! Look for community food actions underway… - Locally: Many communities, organizations, and local champions are working on innovative initiatives that build capacity such as: • • • • • •

Good Food Box or other bulk food buying programs or community-supported agriculture models Community kitchens to batch cook together while socializing and saving money Canning and preserving foods safely to eat during the winter months Community gardening programs to grow food together Linking food bank participants to additional community food action initiatives Building local food networks to share and learn together

May 2015 | 27

| A Healthier You

Foundation Updates

Dawson Creek Gives Back By Daneka Hussey, manager of fundraising and events, Dawson Creek & District Hospital Foundation

Every year since 2004, the Dawson Creek & District Hospital Foundation has worked in partnership with Bell Media to host the Have a Heart Radiothon in our community. This year, we held the event on February 12, 2015. The radiothon included giveaways to donors thanks to Bell Media, a large and varied silent auction thanks to local donors and sponsors, and a change drive that did incredibly well! Overall, the event was a huge success and thanks to the community in Dawson Creek, we were able to raise over $16,000! This money will go towards the purchase of an ERBE electrosurgical unit with scope for our local hospital! Bell Media is the primary driving force during the event, contributing not only 12 hours of on-air radio time, but also donating draw items to give away to donors throughout the day. This year’s host was Kolter Bouchard, who kept the day busy with interviews, CD and concert ticket giveaways, and good music!

Photos from Have a Heart Radiothon (selection of silent auction items)

The Have a Heart Radiothon takes place at the Dawson Creek Co-op Mall. The mall provides us with a public space where we can promote the fundraiser. The mall also provides tables to display and host our silent auction and delicious cookies that they sell to benefit the foundation! Our radiothon is only one of many events that we hold throughout the year. Other fundraisers include the Dawson Creek Sportsman’s Club’s Benefit Clay Bird Shoot, our Lights for Life Campaign, and the Chances Dinner & Silent Auction. It is through events like these that the foundation raises awareness in the community about the work that we do. They also give community members the chance to participate in fun activities and give back to their local hospital.

Photos from Chances Dinner & Silent Auction

For more information on our events, please visit: or call (250) 784-7355.

Blankets, Lights, and Scopes! Kitimat Embraces Foundation Efforts

By Corinne Scott, chair, Kitimat General Hospital Foundation

The Kitimat General Hospital Foundation (KGHF) is one of the newer foundations in the north and so most everything we do is fresh, challenging and exciting! We are delighted to report that the community is embracing our efforts and local businesses, industry, community organizations and individuals have stepped up to support our campaigns. The KGHF has developed an excellent relationship with the Haisla Nation Council who provided funding to purchase a state-of-the-art laryngoscope for the local emergency room. The Council invited KGHF to participate in a Health Fair at Kitamaat Village, a rewarding exercise that allowed us to share the foundation’s goals with the Haisla Nation. A Healthier You | 28 | May 2015

With targeted funds from Shoppers Drug Mart and the Ladies of the Eastern Star, we purchased a selection of day-to-day comfort resources for oncology patients as well as a blanketwarming oven that will provide oncology patients with snuggly blankets during their difficult treatment. Every year, the KGHF picks a fundraising project based on input from medical staff at the hospital. Last year, the staff suggested a portable ultrasound and as a result of the community’s support, ER staff now have a new state-ofthe-art tool that can improve outcomes. We also had the pleasure of hosting a donor recognition luncheon to thank donors and to give them a peek at the equipment purchased through their donations.

Capital Update

Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre Replacement Project Update By Jonathon Dyck, lead, public affairs and media relations, Northern Health

The new Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre is now open for business in Burns Lake. The $55 million facility was completed months ahead of schedule, and officially opened to the public on February 3, 2015.

Dr. Charles Jago, Northern Health board chair, speaks at the grand opening of the Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre.

The new hospital has 16 beds and will provide acute care and emergency services, diagnostic imaging, lab services and pharmacy. A medical clinic offers primary, outpatient and acute care, along with the delivery of mental health and addictions, public health, and homeand community-care services. The facility is a two-storey building totalling approximately 6,100 square metres (65,000 square feet). “This project is an important investment for families and future generations in the Village of Burns Lake and the surrounding communities in the delivery of quality, sustainable health-care services,” said Dr. Charles Jago, Northern Health board chair. “This project will enable Northern Health physicians and clinicians to deliver client-focused health-care services in a modernized environment, ultimately improving outcomes for patients.”

Anne Desrosiers, Burns Lake nurse practitioner; Jerry Petersen, acting chair of the Stuart Nechako Regional Hospital District; and Health Minister Terry Lake putting messages into a time capsule that will be opened in 25 years to remember the grand opening. Dr. Charles Jago, Northern Health board chair; Dan George, Burns Lake Band chief; and John Rustad, MLA Nechako Lakes and minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation, prepare to write their messages.

The project was officially announced in April 2012 and the first big milestone was the move of the old nurses’ residence in December 2012. The groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held on April 12, 2013, with excavation of the site. Construction began in January 2014 and the hospital opened to patients on February 3, 2015. Work is now underway to demolish the old facility, which will be followed by landscaping and paving of the new parking lots. This work is expected to be completed this summer. PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. built the new Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre. The total project cost of $55 million was shared between the Government of British Columbia and Stuart Nechako Regional Hospital District.

Dr. Charles Jago, Northern Health board chair; Anne Desrosiers, Burns Lake nurse practitioner; Jerry Petersen, acting chair of the Stuart Nechako Regional Hospital District; Health Minister Terry Lake; Dan George, Burns Lake Band chief; and John Rustad, MLA Nechako Lakes and minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation celebrate putting their messages in the time capsule that will be opened in 25 years to remember the grand opening celebration for the new Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre.

Over the holidays, the KGHF joined with the Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce in their Light Up Kitimat campaign. We purchased lights and strung them on trees and shrubs at the Kitimat General Hospital. We also organized the third annual Christmas Coffee House in the Kitimat General Hospital reception area. The entertainment was excellent as were the goodies and beverages provided by the kitchen staff! Thanks to contributions from Rio Tinto Alcan and Sight and Sound, we have established a donor display in the reception area of the Kitimat General Hospital. Two monitors provide a continuous loop of project photos and videos as well as a listing of all of our generous donors who make it all possible. The year ahead will include lots of great events! The foundation is particularly excited to be participating again in Bullorama organized by the Snowflake Community Fairgrounds Society and the Tim Hortons Smile Cookie Campaign.

Margaret Sanou & Corinne Scott

Christmas Coffee House

Installing Donor Recognition sign May 2015 | 29

| A Healthier You

Staff Profile

Staff profile: Shelly Crack 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.

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!

A Healthier You | 30 | May 2015

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.

May 2015 | 31

| A Healthier You

A Healthier You | May 2015  

Northern BC’s health information magazine.

A Healthier You | May 2015  

Northern BC’s health information magazine.