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: Working with the Priorities of People Living in Poverty

There are a lot of workshops at this year’s Linking for Healthy Communities conference that I was excited about. But I think the one I was looking forward to most was Jason Hartwick and Gillian Kranias’ workshop Working with the Priorities of People Living in Poverty. The workshop provided a lot of open space for us to reflect on our own work and experiences, for us to discuss the values and principles of community development work, and for us to hear about Jason’s work and experiences (which frankly, I could have listened to all day). What I loved the most about the workshop was the opportunity to reflect on my own experiences and what I've personally learned. 

jason 3

One of the key messages from the workshop was about the assumptions and biases made about people who live in poverty. Societal reaction to those living in poverty is that “they” are handed everything that they need (eg social assistance), that they are responsible for their own conditions, and that they should “pull themselves up by the bootstraps”. But, as Josephine Gray says, “they” do not have boots. The reality is much more complex.

jason 1

People who live in poverty are often treated as if they have no value: the only thing expected of them is to live on social assistance and accomplish nothing. One workshop participant recommends using as asset-based approach: to recognize that communities have something inherently good and precious about them. Jason talked about the importance of pride, that communities who live in poverty rarely feel like they have something to be proud of.

Another take-away for me is how those of us who work in agencies come to the work with the agendas of our agencies: our mandates, our visions, our programs, our timelines. It’s important to keep those agendas slightly behind us (rather than pushing them in front of us) and use an open approach with communities. Rather than walking in and talking about he wonderful program that we have, we need to take the time to ask: what do you need? What do you want? Jason says communities do not have to own the problem, but they can be a part of creating the solutions.

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Built to Last: Sustainability Does Wonders!

(Or, "You’re taking away our hotdogs? This is supposed to be a democracy!”)

In the afternoon on the first day of our HC Link conference, the Local Project Managers for the Healthy Kids Community Challenge communities had a private session to chat and learn about sustainability. Between online and in-person participants, we had LPMs from about 2/3 of the projects present, which was a terrific turn-out!

LPMs arranged the content for the session – Cyndi (from KFLA), Fenicia (from Toronto) and Luke (from Sault Ste Marie) led the presentation. Naomi Giuliano shared a story about the Healthy Kids charter in the Superior North Greenstone HKCC region. HC Link provided space in the conference agenda, as well as the online connection.

LPM session photo

Key questions in the open discussion were:

  1. How has your HKCC operational structure supported the Program to be sustainable? What are some of the advantages or disadvantages?
  2. Are your key stakeholders committed to continuing the Program? If not, what's required for them to do so?
  3. What opportunities do you see? Are there any challenges?

Discussion flowed both online and in the room – sharing stories and challenges; making connections; and just enjoying the chance to be in the same space. LPMs can find the slides and continue the discussion in their private space on The Source.

Thanks for a great session, LPMs!

 

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Linking for Healthy Communities: Day One Reflections

We had a marvellous first day at Linking for Healthy Communities: With Everyone, For Everyone (in my slightly biased opinion!). Our conference began with Elder Whabagoon offering us the Strong Woman song and traditional water ceremony. Elder Whabagoon invited us to speak to water every day: love the water, thank the water, and respect the water. We then welcomed our incredible keynote speaker, Kim Katrin Milan, to the stage. Kim’s talk was called “Centering the Margins” and she spoke of the importance of reflecting and engaging people in conversations.

Kim

 

 

 Following the keynote, conference participants had small group reflection time to talk about the themes in Kim’s talk that resonated for them, and to identify questions to ask Kim. I was then lucky enough to join Kim on stage to moderate the Q&A session.

Day one Reflection

 

Throughout the rest of the day, everyone I spoke with talked about how Kim’s talk had impressed them, motivated them, and encouraged them to think differently. You can view Kim’s prezzie online.

Following an excellent lunch, conference participants chose from 4 workshops: a networking session for Local Project Managers involved in the Healthy Kids Community Challenge; a FrancoPavillion; what Successful Partnerships Do: an equity and inclusion lens; and Reflection and Action on the Impact of Power and Privilege in Health Equity Practice. If our twitter feed is any indication, the workshops were enthusiastically received!

This is a bittersweet conference for those involved (past and present) with HC Link. After nine years of working together, this is our last conference. We wanted to celebrate not only our work, but your work, and the work we’ve done together. We hosted a celebratory reception and heard brief remarks from each of the Executive Directors of HC Link’s three member organizations: Lorna McCue from the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition, Joanne Brown from Parent Action on Drugs, and Barb Willet from Health Nexus. Around fifty people joined us to celebrate and share memories of what we’ve accomplished together.

reception

It’s now just before starting time on Day Two and we’ve got a lot to look forward to today: 8 concurrent session workshops, a Living Library Café and theatre event. We hope you enjoy the day!

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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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