Blog

Welcome to HC Link's blog! Our blog will provide you with useful information on healthy community topics, news, and resources, as well as information on HC Link’s events, activities, and resources. Our bloggers include HC Link staff and consultants, as well as our partnering organizations, clients, and experts in the health promotion field.

Please note: opinions in posts are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of HC Link or our funder.

We look forward to engaging in thought-provoking conversation with you!

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Conference Workshop Profile: Reflection and Action on the Impact of Power & Privilege in Health Equity Practice

Our 2017 conference is just 11 days away (I can’t quite believe it!) and the excitement among HC Link staff, volunteers and presenters is growing! On the afternoon of day one, Monday November 20, conference attendees will have a difficult choice to make between four excellent workshops. One of them, Reflection and Action on the Impact of Power & Privilege in Health Equity Practice, is being delivered by our colleagues Kim Bergeron and Samiya Abdi from Public Health Ontario. Learn more about this workshop- and why you should attend- by watching this short video that Samiya and I filmed.

 

Hope to see you at the conference! The registration deadline is November 13th and there will be a draw for a $100 Indigo gift card for registrants! Registere here

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10 reasons to attend Linking for Healthy Communities: with everyone, for everyone

HC Link’s bi-annual conference, Linking for Healthy Communities, is now less than a month away! Our theme for this conference is with everyone, for everyone. At the conference, we’ll link, learn and share about topics like equity, diversity, cultural humility, inclusion and allyship, with a focus on youth, ethnoracial, Francophone, and Indigenous communities.

The full conference program was released last week, which contains many reasons why you’d want to attend the conference. If you need even more reasons however, here’s what HC Link staff love about the conference, and why we think you should attend (in our slightly biased opinions):

Lisa Tolentino, Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition

I love that the conference is a place to meet dynamic people doing dynamic things - and also making new connections/developing new contacts. The ability to see things through a different lens and being better able to understand other peoples’ perspectives on issues is a huge benefit for me. I come away from the conference energized with optimism and ideas for creating change on both personal and professional levels. At least that was how I felt after the last conference, and I suspect that this one will be the same :)

Patrick Delorme, Health Nexus

To design this conference’s French offerings, I assembled an advisory committee of Francophone organizations and stakeholders to provide advice and guidance. The result is what we’re calling “Pavilion Franco”. It will be an open space to connect with Francophones and those who provide French Language Services (FLS). The Pavilion Franco will feature:

  • Mini-sessions on the priorities of Francophone communities

  • Marketplace of FLS service providers to share their resources and services

  • A wall mural for people to share what they have to offer and what they need, in terms of FLS services, resources, and expertise

We’ll also have two breakout workshops in French: one that I’ll co-present with Gillian, on working in partnership, and the other on systems of governance.

Gillian Kranias, Health Nexus

I’m really looking forward to this year’s conference. I couldn’t think of just one reason to attend, so I’m including the four things I’m looking forward to the most:

  • Expanding my networks of people who care about doing partnership work in new and more equitable ways.

  • Having space and time to talk about some of the difficult moments.

  • Reflecting on and improving my skills and approach in a supportive environment – both at workshops and over breaks/meals

  • Experiencing the speakers and facilitators – such a rich lineup in a mere two days!

Rebecca Byers, Parent Action on Drugs

This year’s conference, more than ever, provides time and space to explore important topics and have meaningful discussion with people from varied experiences/perspectives. The program includes individual reflection, interactive workshops, large group and table discussions, small group activities, as well as time for networking and informal conversation.

Robyn Kalda, Health Nexus

The BMO Institute for Learning is such a lovely venue! With so many conferences, you feel like you’ve been cooped up in a hotel basement all day (because you have) and you come blinking into the light at the end of the day like an animal emerging from hibernation. This place isn’t like that – it’s very welcoming, comfortable, full of light and a sense of space and pleasantness, and yet there are quieter spots too where introverts like me can sit and recharge our batteries (and drink excellent coffee).

Andrea Bodkin, Health Nexus

I’m excited about pretty much everything to do with this conference. Like Robyn, I adore the BMO Institute and their magic latte machines. I’m really looking forward to our keynote speaker and plenary sessions (after 8 years of HC Link we finally have interpretive dance on the program). I think I’m looking forward the plenary discussion opportunities, especially the Living Library Café, the most. After two days of talking about and thinking about diversity and inclusion and working across difference, how will people be reacting? How will people be impacted? What impact will the conference make when we all head back to work? That’s what I’m looking forward to hearing about!

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Looking at hospitals with a health promotion lens

This week I’ve had a slightly difference experience to the ones I usually blog about for HC Link. A close family member of mine has had surgery and is in the ICU. While I certainly have lots on my mind at this time, I also can’t help looking around me and noticing the ways that hospitals promote the health of their patients and their families.

My first experience of this hospital was when my family member and I met with the surgeon several weeks ago. A hospital fundraiser was underway. Understandable that fundraisers are necessary, but selling Krispy Kreme Donuts?

selling Krispy Kreme

Yesterday in the ICU waiting room, I noticed a series of wall displays of patient information. Good idea, as many people in that waiting room are there for hours at a time (as most of the time you can only visit your loved one for 10 minutes at a time). However this one gave me pause:

Empty isolation info rack

Social isolation is one of the factors that influences health -- social inclusion is one of the social determinants of health recognized in Canada -- and I can only imagine how feeling isolated and alone makes patients feel and affects their healing. The impacts of social isolation and the benefits of social inclusion aren’t always recognized. I think this empty display speaks to the lack of resources available not just in this display, but overall.

Now to the good news.The hospital does address isolation by allowing visiting at any time.

visitanytime

This hospital -- like many -- has a program to allow vulnerable-feeling pedestrians to walk to parking lots, bus stops and residences safely. A quick call to hospital security gets you a burly escort to your destination of choice.

walksafe

And here’s one from a BC hospital that HC Link’s Robyn Kalda took: humour and hand washing!

buttons

I could go on, but I need to get back to the hospital. Healthy healing everyone!

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Playing Back Your Conference Stories

Playback for new parents

 

 

 

By Naomi Tessler, Artistic Director, Branch Out Theatre

 

Once Upon a time, there was a conference. A conference that aimed to explore issues of inclusion, equity and working across difference. A conference that created space for participants to critically reflect upon their role in co-creating community transformation: with everyone, for everyone. At this conference there were many moments of inspiration, mixed with conflicting points of view. The result: Two days of deep unpacking, radical learning and the etchings of a new road map to community change.

 

Let’s Watch! …

 

These are the magic words you’ll hear at the closing playback theatre performance by Branch Out Theatre for the upcoming HC Link conference. You and your fellow conference attendees will be invited to share your conference reflections, stories and experiences (like the summary painted above) and Branch Out Theatre’s playback theatre troupe will play those moments back to you- on the spot- through improvisation. Branch Out Theatre will co-create a space with you to harvest your learnings, deepen your understanding and strengthen your connections.

With each reflection shared and each story told, our actors will use different playback theatre forms to animate the experiences being recounted. Each form will vary in length and depth and serve to capture the heart of what each conference attendee shares. We’ll use sound and movement to play out a montage of feelings you’ve had throughout the conference. We’ll perform impromptu rants to help make sense of any conflicts or challenges. We’ll re-enact your full stories about the seeds of wisdom and the roots of support you’re taking back to your community practice.

Whether or not you’re up for being a teller: one who shares an experience or story, the whole audience grows more connected as each story is played back. A personal experience gracefully transforms into a universal experience as the audience witnesses the story unfold onstage. Watching your fellow conference attendee’s story played back, you will undoubtedly see speckles of your own experience within it. The chance to have your story played back is like a gift, and our Branch Out Theatre playback ensemble: Alicia Payne, David Jan Jurasek, Victoria Haist and Will Kwan, conducted by Naomi Tessler, looks so forward to helping you unwrap it! To see pictures of past playback theatre performances, click here.

Playback theatre is one of the applied theatre practices that Branch Out Theatre works with to facilitate community engagement, creative play and critical reflection. We also specialize in Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, which centralizes pertinent issues of injustice in order to empower individuals and communities to be agents of change.

Check out videos from our various applied theatre project’s and performances here. Through our participatory workshops, trainings, community arts projects and interactive productions, we aim to inspire personal and collective transformation, and set the stage to rehearse towards social change across Canada.

We look so forward to Branching Out through Theatre with you and playing back your stories on November 21st at 3pm. Let’s Watch!

To learn more about Branch Out Theatre, please visit: www.branchouttheatre.com

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How can we work “with” people in poverty?

providence doucet 87304

 

On November 21st, join Gillian Kranias and Jason Hartwick as they re-examine the way we work with people who live in poverty. They will host an interactive workshop at our conference about strategies for working with people living in poverty in ways that respect their priorities.

How is this important? When working with people who are different from ourselves, our charity-based culture often sets us up to work “for” community members. Following this habit, we can end up in a mess. We carry and create biases around people who live in poverty. We feel rushed to produce results that reflect organizational priorities, not community priorities. We assume things and overlook local knowledge and particularities. Often, for example, we see a “problem” and propose a simple “evidenced solution”, when the local reality is a complex of interrelated issues and options which need to be discussed, sorted through and prioritized with community leadership and ownership.

 

So, how do we shift into working “with” people? To begin: make sure community members feel on their own ground and comfortable. To begin: allow community members to co-lead the process. To begin: resource their leadership, and talk openly and ongoing about how to shift resources towards a more fair sharing of power and leadership.

There is a story of a low-income community which started organizing Friday night dinners at the local recreation centre, providing a safe space where community members could include their children (including teens), share food and dialogue about different community issues and priorities – all facilitated by partnership members.

In this workshop, on November 21st, participants will build awareness and skills through stories and a case study, community development values and principles, collaborative learning and reflection activities. Participants will leave with direction and hope for engaging better “with” people who live in poverty.

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