Canada 15,000/150: Wellbeing for the seventh generation

By Dr. Trevor Hancock

This is National Aboriginal Day (June 21st) and we are just 10 days away from Canada Day. So it is a suitable time to reflect on Canada 150, or – as Inuk film-maker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril rightly pointed out in one of the recent Walrus Talks – Canada 15,000. After all, before the two ‘founding nations’ of Canada appeared on the scene back in the 16th century, the real founding nations had been here some 14,000 years.

Just as Indigenous people were not celebrating in 1992 the 500th anniversary of the ‘discovery’ of the Americas by Columbus, I can’t imagine there will be many celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday. And who can blame them? The harm inflicted on the Indigenous people of the Americas in the past 500 years has been devastating, as has been the history of the relationship between Canada and its Indigenous people since 1867, as demonstrated in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

While we can’t undo that history – and indeed need to face it and accept it – we can create a different story for the next 150 years, and there is no better time to be thinking about this than right now. Moreover, in doing so, we can acknowledge an approach credited to Indigenous ways of thinking, namely to plan for the 7th generation. Since a generation is roughly 20 – 25 years, 7 generations takes us out about 150 years.

As a long-time planner and futurist, I am well aware of the difficulty of planning for a time horizon of 150 years, or even 50 years. Sadly, our political cycles do not reflect the reality of the seventh generation viewpoint, indeed they barely reflect the next generation. But here are some ways to think about what connects the present to the next 100 years or more, and why today’s decisions are so important for the long term.

First, consider that the buildings and infrastructure we create are with us for 50 – 100 years or more. The suburban sprawl we have created since the 1950s still shapes our way of life, our transportation systems, our energy use and our impacts on human and ecosystem health, and will do so for decades to come.

Next, recognize that a female foetus in her mother’s womb today contains within her developing ovaries the eggs that one day, some 20 years hence, will be her children. If those infants live to be 80 – our current life expectancy, although by no means predictive – then the mother of that yet-to-be-born infant carries within her the eggs that will be her elderly grandchildren some 100 years ahead.

Some of our most toxic pollutants are called persistent organic pollutants because they were designed to be persistent; unfortunately, this means that we and our descendants will carry body burdens of them throughout our lives.

The carbon dioxide we are spewing out – and that Donald Trump wants to increase – has an atmospheric lifetime of up to 200 years, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and will thus continue to overheat the planet. And the species extinctions we are creating at 10 – 100 times the base rate over the past 10,000 years, are forever.

But perhaps the new BC government – more attuned as it is to environmental sustainability and social justice – could use the opportunity afforded by Canada 15,000/150 to initiate a conversation – in partnership with Indigenous people in particular – about our long-term responsibilities and our duty to future generations.

Fundamentally, it is unethical for us to consume the resources and harm the natural systems that our descendants will depend upon for their own wellbeing; this is the ethical principle of intergenerational justice. Arguably, it is also unethical for us to appropriate ecosystems and resources that other species require for their own survival; the Earth is not ‘ours’ alone, we share it with many other species, many of which we depend upon for our own survival.

So – much as we are doing here in Victoria with our ‘Conversations for a One Planet Region’ – as we mark Canada 15,000/150, lets think about the next 150 years, the next seven generations, and how we ensure a more healthy just and sustainable life for them.

© Trevor Hancock, 2017

Originally published in Times Colonist June 18, 2017


Paola Ardiles, Bridge for Health Founder wins Social Trailblazer Award

Simon Fraser University News

SFU health sciences lecturer Paola Ardiles is honoured by the Surrey Board of Trade for social trailblazing with a Women in Business award.


Health sciences lecturer honoured as social trailblazer

March 09, 2017

SFU health sciences lecturer Paola Ardiles has been honoured with a 2017 Surrey Board of Trade Women in Business award for her role as a community “social trailblazer.”

The annual awards recognize the work of Surrey’s businesswomen and their contributions to the community. Ardiles is cited for contributing to myriad public health areas including mental health promotion, health literacy, cultural competency, immigrant and refugee health and women’s mental health.

Ardiles provides mentorship and supervision for students interested in the public health field. She recently co-designed the new Health Change Lab at SFU Surrey, in partnership with SFU’s Radius Social Innovation Lab, Beedie School of Business.

The Health Change Lab launched as an experiential program to help students co-design innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to complex social/health problems in partnership with City of Surrey, Fraser Health Authority and various community partners.

Such partnerships ensured that students were working with mentors and coalitions to support priority areas identified by the Surrey community, such as food security, active transportation for seniors, mental health and substance use issues.

This past week her fourth-year students participated in the Surrey arm of Metro Vancouver’s Homeless count and saw first-hand the impact of homelessness and poverty.

“I’m incredibly honoured to receive this award, and will continue to work with our students and community partners towards solutions to our most urgent public health issues,” says Ardiles, who shared the award with her two co-nominees, Jen Temple of the Trademark Group and Alice Sundberg of Surrey’s Poverty Reduction Coalition.

Paola Ardiles and Surrey Board of Trade speaker and SFU alumna Margaret Trudeau

Ardiles has placed a particular focus on youth engagement and leadership development over the last few years. In 2015, she launched a social media campaign for youth and with youth to answer the questions of why and how to best engage youth in global health policy development.

Ardiles joined SFU’s Faculty of Health Sciences in 2013 to design and teach a new curriculum on health promotion in the Canadian context for the Master of Public Health program. The same year, she founded Bridge for Health (B4H), a local and global network focusing on social innovation to promote health and wellbeing.

Since forming the network, Ardiles has worked to engage students, academics, professionals and organizations to share their talents, ideas and solutions in the B4H creative space. She also created an advisory group of global research and policy experts, whose initial report instigated the creation of a youth symposium at the World Health Organization’s international conference in Shanghai last fall.

For the past eight years, she has been a board member of the Public Health Association of BC and is past president of the non-for-profit organization, which advocates for healthy public policies. Her collaborative efforts led to the first public dialogue between the business sector and B.C.’s public health community, the first of its kind in Canada.

The idea of using sustainable business practices as a force for good health led her to enrol in SFU’s part-time MBA program in Surrey to study the concept. That led to the recent launch of the Bridge for Health Cooperative, to support businesses to design healthy social and physical environments in the workplace.

In 2016, Bridge for Health piloted its Well-being at Work Innovation Labs in Surrey with some local businesses as part of a Surrey Board of Trade event. The co-op will be implementing the labs in Brazil in May 2017.

The awards luncheon feature speaker, Margaret Trudeau, an SFU outstanding alumni award recipient, praised the work of all the award nominees.

© Simon Fraser University

Healthy Corner Stores-well, why not?

By Dr. Trevor Hancock

A couple of weeks ago I spoke at a conference in the US on adolescent health. One of my fellow speakers spoke with energy and passion about the need for young people to eat a more healthy diet. But it was a very American speech, rooted in an ethos of personal choices and individual responsibility. While noting that our food is laced with fructose and high levels of sugar and fat (oddly, I don’t recall her mentioning salt or lack of dietary fibre) she did not suggest that we should be regulating the food industry that provides this unhealthy diet.

I pointed this out rather firmly, suggesting that we should. Repeating Nancy Milio’s famous phrase, I said we need to make the healthy choice the easy choice. But all too often we make the unhealthy choice easy – and then wonder why people make unhealthy choices. Unsurprisingly, this suggestion was not met with much enthusiasm. Nor was another questioner who wondered how people in low-income communities, faced with ‘food deserts’, could make healthy choices when all they had were corner stores and fast-food restaurants. The speaker suggested they should create community gardens.

I have nothing against community gardens, indeed I welcome them for all sorts of good reasons; at their best they strengthen community relationships, provide exercise, green havens and links to nature, even vegetables and fruit – and they might save some people some money. But I don’t see them as a viable solution for people who live in low-income food deserts.

Instead I suggest another approach: The Healthy Corner Store. This approach was pioneered in 2004 by the Food Trust, a Philadelphia-based non-profit, in partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The Food Trust noted that in low-income communities, where supermarkets are often lacking, “families depend on corner stores for food purchases. The choices at these stores are often limited to packaged food and very little, if any, fresh produce.”

So they set out to change that, working with local stores and their communities. The Philadelphia network now involves more than 600 corner stores. A 2014 evaluation of the Philadelphia initiative found that it resulted in “healthier choices, healthier businesses and healthier communities” and the network has now gone national.

This approach is now underway in Canada, with an initiative launched by the Toronto Food Policy Council in 2014 and by the Food Policy Lab and others in Newfoundland in 2015. The Toronto initiative began by mapping areas of the city where there was lack of access to healthy food and where low income populations live.

They selected a pilot convenience store in a high-rise complex in East Scarborough whose owners were keen to sell healthier and more affordable food. Working with the local community, including the youth, they identified local healthy food preferences and worked to strengthen relationships between the community and the store owners. Then they worked with the owners to improve their business planning, including purchasing, marketing and signage.

The product will be a ‘how to’ toolkit they hope to take to some of the other 2,000 convenience stores across the city. The intent is to boost sales and profits in the store, which makes it an attractive option for other stores to adopt, although it is too soon to tell how much this will change people’s diets.

The Newfoundland project is based on the recognition that “Newfoundland and Labrador has the most corner stores per capita, as well as the highest proportion of corner stores in rural areas, of all of the provinces or territories in Canada”, according to the Food First NL website. In rural communities, they note, these stores are also important community hubs, which means these stores can help strengthen community as well as improve healthy food choices. As in Toronto, they have started with a pilot store from which they are learning, but then plan to expand across the province.

Of course, changing our food culture takes a long time, especially in competition with the powerful marketing of fast food and junk food. But this seems like a worthwhile effort that could readily be adopted in BC, both in big cities such as Vancouver and in small, rural communities.

© Trevor Hancock, 2017

Originally published in Times Colonist Feb 27, 2017

Photograph by Claudio Vasquez


Paola Ardiles Gamboa BSc MHSc MBA, Founder & President of Board

Paola Ardiles Gamboa is a public health champion, educator and social entrepreneur. Her work is rooted in community engaged scholarship, participatory practice and social innovation.

As a practitioner scholar, she has published and contributed to work ranging from health equity issues to system approaches towards wellbeing in higher ed. In 2012, Paola was awarded Dr. Nancy Hall Public Policy Leadership Award of Distinction, for her local, provincial and national work to advance mental health in Canada.

In 2013, Paola founded Bridge for Health, a local & global network focused on citizen and youth engagement to promote health & wellbeing. Bridge for Health became an incubator for social innovation and was established as a co-op association, receiving the 2017 Coast Capital Savings Venture Award for Social Impact for its efforts to advance wellbeing in the workplace.

Since 2013, Paola has been teaching and mentoring at Simon Fraser University. She has developed new undergraduate and graduate experiential courses in Health Promotion & Social Innovation. In 2016, in collaboration with academic & community partners, Paola co-designed the new Health Change Lab, an experiential program to help students identify community health challenges in the city of Surrey and design innovative & entrepreneurial solutions. She received the 2017 Surrey Board of Trade-Women in Business, Social Trailblazer award.

Paola has 15 + years of leadership and facilitation experience, plus a passion for creating and leading innovative, collaborative and multi-sectoral initiatives. She received the inaugural 2017 Health Promotion Canada’s Mid Career national award and was recognized as one of TD Bank’s 10 most influential Hispanic Canadians. Most recently, Paola received the inaugural  SFU President’s Social Media Newsmaker Award.

Paola serves as the immediate Past President of the Public Health Association of British Columbia, a non-for-profit organization.

Bilingual: Spanish/English, advanced French



Rebecca Zappelli BASc MHM, Vice President of Board & Global Partnerships Lead

Rebecca Zappelli

Rebecca Zappelli

Rebecca has 10 years of experience working in the health sector in health policy and health promotion roles for government, community and research organizations in Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada. Her skills in management, policy development, implementation, health promotion programming, research and community engagement have seen her contribute to a number of successful health programs and policy initiatives in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.

Whether it’s been backpacking across Egypt, volunteering in Peru, living in a Ger in Mongolia or travelling in an overland truck across East Africa, Rebecca has cultivated a passion for developing relationships that contribute to community development and global partnership. This passion has led her to work with Bridge for Health’s co-founders and network members to lead the cooperatives global engagement agenda, building its international network towards co-producing socially innovative solutions to complex health issues.

In addition to being a founding member and Bridge for Health’s International Partnerships Lead, Rebecca is the Director of Operations at the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA) at Simon Fraser University. It is in this role that Rebecca is responsible for managing CARMHA’s resources, developing and managing organizational and program budgets, supporting the planning and organization of research projects and the execution of research operations.

Rebecca has also held senior policy roles within the Western Australian (WA) government, including working for the WA Mental Health Commission: a government agency charged with state-wide mental health reform. Whilst at the WA Mental Health Commission, Rebecca was a part of the project team working with State and Federal governments to plan for the delivery of a comprehensive youth early psychosis service across WA. She also project managed a number of youth mental health initiatives and co-developed the ‘WA Mental Health Prevention and Anti-Stigma Framework 2011-13’ to guide the state governments strategic investment in the area.

Rebecca’s expertise in health have seen her present at a number of national and international conferences on health related topics such as; youth engagement, social marketing, collective impact, sexual and mental health and social inclusion.

Rebecca has completed a Masters in Health Management from the University of New South Wales and also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science (Health Promotion) Deakin University. Rebecca is also a member of a number of professional groups in public health and health promotion.


Natasha Moore, Co-founder & Secretary of Board

Natasha has over 10 years experience in the technology, health supports and market research sectors. Her work spans project management, community engagement, research and evaluation in Australia and Canada.

A growing interest in disrupters in the health and wellbeing space led to a connection with Bridge for Health’s co-founders and the opportunity to play a key role in the creation of the cooperatives business structure. 

Natasha is a founding member and co-Chair of Bridge for Health, as well as Research Analyst for Wellbeing at UBC. At UBC Natasha provides strategic and evaluation support for programs and projects that focus on wellbeing of community members. 

In the technology space Natasha contributed to the development Tyze Personal Networks, a care coordination platform. With a focus on research, community engagement and product management Natasha played a key role engaging users, developing resources and making strategic product improvements.

Natasha has a Bachelor of Social Science (RMIT University, Australia) and Graduate Certificate in International Management (Capilano University, Canada).

Local thinking and action on global issues

Store frontBy Dr. Trevor Hancock

“Think globally, act locally” was one of the enduring slogans of the 1970’s environmental movement. But I believe that we need to think locally as well as act locally, and thus I am leading the organisation of a series of local Conversations on Victoria as a One Planet region, a concept I first suggested in my August 10th column last year. The purpose is to explore the idea and begin the process of imagining a future for our community where we have a high quality of life and a low ecological footprint.

But this is no mere academic exercise, it has a very practical application. We are entering the Anthropocene, a new geologic epoch created by human activity. We have become a force to rival nature; in one telling line in a short video – Welcome to the Anthropocene – produced for a 2012 international conference in London, the narrator notes “we move more sediment and rock annually than all natural processes, such as erosion and rivers”.

On top of that, we are changing the climate, have made a hole in the ozone layer, manage three-quarters of the land outside the ice-sheets, and have started a sixth Great Extinction. Our rate of resource use and pollution is so high that if everyone on Earth lived the way we do, we would need three or four new planets to meet our demands.

We cannot blithely continue on like this. Nor can we say to the rest of the world – sorry, you must take less so that we can take more; it would be unjust and they will not accept that. So clearly we need to learn to live within the limits of the one small planet that is our home.

I recently came across Bioregional, a non-profit consultancy based in the UK. They have mainly been working with developers on ‘One Planet’ developments; Dockside Green, as orginally conceived, would have fitted right in. But more recently, some cities have been developing and adopting One Planet plans; of particular interest to us is Brighton and Hove, on the south coast of England, which has a population about the same as ours. And last Friday in Vancouver there was an event to begin to explore ‘How do we become a One Planet city?’ So our series of Conversations are right on target.

But getting from here to there will not be easy, because the changes we need are massive, transformative – and they have to happen quickly. However people are not going to willingly and easily make the changes that are needed if they see them as harmful. That is the dilemma – and the challenge – we face. Can we imagine and then describe a positive vision of what our region would look like if it had a high Happy Planet Index? And more to the point, what would our society be like, how would we reconceive our economy, what are the value shifts we would have to bring about?

Our Conversations, then, clearly need to be as much about philosophy, the humanities, the arts and the social sciences as technology and the natural sciences. We will need need visionaries, hope and imagination, innovation and new forms of entrepreneurship that make a profit while building natural, social and human capital.

These free Conversations start Monday, January 23rd from 5 – 7 PM at the Robert Bateman Centre, 470 Belleville Street and continue weekly for 5 weeks. The opening Conversation will lay out some basic ideas and discuss the estimation of Victoria’s ecological footprint, an essential step in measuring the HPI. Over the following weeks we will discuss the Indigenous perspective on these issues (Jan 30) and what a One Planet energy system (Feb 6), transportation system (Feb 13) and food system (Feb 22nd) would look like.

This will culminate in a UVic IdeaFest event on Saturday March 11th at New Horizons in James Bay. But already ideas are being hatched for more Conversations: What is the role of the arts in contributing to this transformation? What do the various faith communities have to say about a One Planet way of life? What sort of economy fits a one Planet region- and many more issues. The Conversation is just beginning.

© Trevor Hancock, 2017

Originally Published in Times Colonist.

Photo by Claudio Vasquez.

Shannon Turner PhD (c), Co-Founder & Treasurer

Shannon Turner, B.A., BSc., MSc., PhD(c)., is a well-respected senior public health administrator, researcher and advocate. Her lifelong commitment to social justice is reflected in Shannon’s nearly continuous volunteer and advocacy efforts over the last twenty years. Shannon served as President, Past President and chair of governance committee of the Public Health Association of British Columbia (PHABC) and currents serves as the Executive Director of PHABC.  Currently, Shannon is the National Co-Chair of Prevention of Violence Canada and an elected board member of the Canadian Public Health Association. Shannon is also committed member of the Global Violence Prevention Alliance, and has served on the Working Group for the Assets Database and participated in numerous VPA meetings and conferences.

Prior to undertaking full time Doctoral studies Shannon was Director of Public Health for the Vancouver Island Health Authority. In both her professional and personal life Shannon has been dedicated to the promotion of healthy communities, and social justice. For more than 25 years she has supported quality improvement activities across the health care continuum from local to international levels of governance. Shannon has provided decision support, health promotion, program management, information management, risk management, quality improvement and strategic planning consultant services. As a health promotion and health informatics consultant, Shannon has worked in multiple cross-cultural settings and has had a commitment to reducing health inequities particularly for indigenous people. Shannon served as a keynote in an international Speaking Tour in Sweden and Latvia in 1994 and 1996 and in 2008, she facilitated a thirteen country meeting in Uganda on behalf of the East, Central and South African Public Health Associations.

The University of Hawaii has named Shannon to the Delta Omega Society for outstanding contribution to public health. In 2008, she was awarded the James M. Robinson Award (UBC Public Health) for her significant contributions to public health. In 2009, she was presented with the President’s Award by the Public Health Association of BC for her work in rebuilding and renewing the association. Shannon Turner, has served as a foster parent, and is an honorary life member of the Vancouver Island Cooperative Preschool Association.

To Reform For Health

By Dr. Trevor Hancock

The high cost of health care, driven in part by a strategic failure to invest adequately in prevention and self-care support, is diverting our attention and resources from what should be our number one priority. On both humane and economic grounds we need to reduce the burden of disease and the need for health care.

But doing so is largely beyond the scope of the health care system and the Ministry of Health. Because the major determinants of our health lie in areas such as food, housing, education, income, safe and healthy neighbourhoods, good working conditions, a clean environment and a stable climate – none of which fall within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health. This requires reform for health, in which the whole government, led by the Premier, accepts and acts upon its responsibility to improve the population’s health.

As a society we need to invest in policies and practices that will improve the health of the population. And we have to stop creating ill health that just adds to the burden of disease and the costs of health care. Yet we know that “social injustice is killing people on a grand scale”, as the World Health Organization’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health bluntly put it in its 2008 report; it is also making people sick on a grand scale.

People whose lives and choices are constrained by poverty, hunger, homelessness, poor education, unhealthy living and working conditions, multiple insecure jobs and other stressors will find it hard, if not impossible, to lead healthy lives and raise healthy children: It is a testament to their strength that so many manage to do so in the face of such adversity.

The costs of poverty and inequality are not only lost human potential but significant economic costs. In an April 2016 report, the Public Health Agency of Canada found that for just three health care services, representing only one quarter of total health care spending, “socio-economic health inequalities cost Canada’s health care system at least $6.2 billion annually”.

Noting that the lowest income group accounted for more than half of this excess cost, they concluded that “Improving the health of this group could significantly reduce these costs”. When you add in the other costs associated with poverty, it becomes clear that poverty is so expensive that we just cannot afford it. Which is why provinces such as Ontario are beginning to look at some form of guaranteed minimum income.

In addition, we are becoming increasingly aware that our current economic and industrial system is creating massive global ecological changes that threaten to undermine the very basis of our health: An adequate supply of water, food, fuel and materials, waste detoxification, a stable climate and a viable web of life, of which we are a part.




Claudio Vasquez.










The danger is that when ecosystems decline, the societies embedded within and dependent upon them also decline. In ecological and human health terms, business as usual is so expensive that we can’t afford it. We need to switch to a new development path, one that puts people and planet first, not profit – at least, not profit based in an economic system that ignores or externalises damage to people and the planet.

We need to invest in poverty reduction, affordable housing, food security, education, a fossil fuel-free economy, sustainable development and other key determinants of health. Because ultimately, the health of our population depends upon what we do beyond health care.

But this is not only about public policy, important though that is. It is also about what the private sector does and how it behaves. The reality is that many private sector activities threaten health; we have seen countless examples of industries and investors that are determined to go on making money and ignoring the harm they do.

We need to pay much more attention to what Dr. John Millar, a former Provincial Health Officer for BC, has called ‘the corporate determinants of health’. In fact, we need a new economic model –in which we aim to simultaneously increase natural, social, human and economic capital – and new ways of measuring progress.

Now that would be reform for health!

© Trevor Hancock, 2016

Originally published in Times Colonist on 26 Dec, 2016