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Healthy Eating and Active Living around Northern BC


Community gardens around northern British Columbia

2003/2004 HEAL Projects

HEAL Heroes

Honouring northern British Columbia's role models of healthy eating and active living

HEAL Guide

This green map will highlight sources of local food (farms, markets, restaurants) and recreation (trails, parks, pathways)

2002/2003 HEAL Projects

School Food and Nutrition, School District #27 [More on healthy eating and active living for children and youth]

"Kids will expect to have chips and chocolate bars available at the school concession." That's what some parents said when newly hired principal Marjatta Chapman introduced the concept of making healthy food choices in Lac La Hache Elementary School.

Four years later, parents and students are keen volunteers in a project that has just been awarded a $12,500 grant from HEAL.

The school food and nutrition project involves four elementary schools in District #27 &endash; Lac La Hache, Nesika, Mile 108 and Wildwood. The HEAL grant will help the schools develop food policies to make healthy choice the easy choice for students.

The project has the support of Assistant Superintendent Byron Robbie and is facilitated by Community Nutritionist Rose Soneff, who says, "If it goes well, it will set the stage for a larger project in all of Interior Health."

The SD#27 project puts students, staff and parents in charge of designing policies that work for them and that create a healthier environment.

As one participating teacher said, "This is a fundamental change in the way we link what we teach with what we do in the school, isn't it?"

For information contact Rose Soneff, Community Nutritionist, Interior Health
For other school food and activity policies and programs, see below.

WorkWell to model healthy eating & active living in the workplace [More on workplace wellness]

Read the WorkWell project's final report (PDF 32 K)

"We can't support the advice we give unless staff can be models," says Nancy Gale, Executive Director of the Williams Lake Child Development Centre. Gale is referring to WorkWell, one of two projects to receive a grant of $12,500 from HEAL.

Five non-profit social service agencies in Williams Lake will promote healthy eating and active living policies, supports and programs in the workplaces of all five agencies.

All are part of the Central Cariboo Community Opportunities Coalition, formed in early 2002 "to become leaders in human services, best practices and successful client outcomes."

The project is led by the Women's Contact Society and includes the Child Development Centre, the Boys and Girls Club (NOOPA Youth Centre), Canadian Mental Health Association, and the Association for Community Living.

Anne Burrill, Executive Director of the Women's Contact Society, explains the vision behind WorkWell: "Collectively we employ 157 full and part-time employees who have diverse lifestyles and health needs. We believe our staff deserve a healthy workplace. This project will support them in improving their individual health and encourage healthy practices with their clients."

The CDC's Nancy Gale adds, "Healthy eating and active living need to permeate through systems and organizations. "This is the most cost-effective prevention tool we have available to us. As trusted advisors, we have to be models."

HEAL sees WorkWell as an important step toward federal, provincial and regional health goals of putting healthy eating and active living at the centre of health promotion and disease prevention. Information about this and other HEAL initiatives can be found on the HEAL Web site.

For information contact Anne Burrill, Executive Director, Women's Contact Society.
For other workplace wellness policies and programs, see below.

2001/2002 HEAL Projects


North West

Northern Interior

Peace Liard


  • Acwsalcta School Greenhouse & Gardening Project, Bella Coola - Type 2 diabetes is a large and growing problem among our students and their families. In order to combat this trend, we would like to build two demonstration greenhouses at Acwsalcta School, where we have a level, sunny, accessible area close to school buildings with access to water and the main highway. The larger of the two will be located near the maintenance building and the smokehouse and the smaller will be adjacent to the elementary classrooms for the younger ones to experiment with. We will also try to obtain some lights and start raising some plants to put in the greenhouses when the time is right. 

    A) In addition to linking the existing home ec. facilities with the garden produce as it comes online, we would like to provide more meals to the school community. We see a need for a breakfast/lunch program which should promote foods compatible with a diet that could help prevent type 2 diabetes-try to get away from chips and pop. 

    B) We now have a website, and with it we hope to encourage students to use the technology as a tool to empower themselves and help achieve their goals.
  • Canim Lake Community Garden- The Canim Lake Band is starting an Adult Day Centre to provide care and respite to the elderly, physically and mentally challenged community members. The Community Garden will be an important activity at the Day Centre. Clients of the Day Centre as well, as other community members, will use the garden. Students of the Canim Lake Elementary School, located nearby, will also be involved in garden projects. Planning, site preparation, training, seed buying and starting, advertising, and purchase of tools and supplies are slated for winter 2002.
  • Canoe Creek Activity - The project will bring elders, adults and youth together in partnership through physical recreation and cultural activities by utilizing the gymnasium/community centers in each of the two communities. The program will provide support to those members who are endeavoring to achieve greater health and healing in a holistic manner. Participation will help to lessen risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Cariboo Family Connections, 100 Mile House- This eight-week program supports moms to be physically active during the inclement times of the year through activities selected by participants- including bowling, yoga, Aquacize, Kwandicize, walking and running. The project will be offered to and will involve the target group already participating in the information sessions, Drop-In Lunch, Home visitor program, Nutritional Counseling, and participants of other programs that run here at Cariboo Family Connections (Nobody's Perfect, Community Kitchen, and Mother Goose). The program will also be advertised to any parent of children up to kindergarten age who fits our criteria.
  • Child Development Centre, Williams Lake- This HEAL research project assisted the Child Development Centre to expand the existing healthy eating and active living program entitled, "Bridges to Healthy Living". The research, Healthy Step Forward, was forwarded to other community service providers to assist in the development of relevant and culturally appropriate family support services that link the 250 Indo-Canadians families in Williams Lake to services that are currently available in the community. 

    Adapting to a new language and understanding a new culture is a difficult process for most immigrants. The 1996 Statistics Canada identified 1,545 Williams Lake residents whose first language was not English. Cultural norms and family values, isolation, language and family income have been cited as barriers to access and awareness of community health, social and recreational services.

    The research explored ways to reduce barriers, including the lack of childcare, transportation and cost. As well, the research explored ways to encourage intergenerational participation by including conversation (socialization) for those learning English and translation services of health promotional materials including pamphlets and brochures.
  • Horsefly Community Development Centre Diabetic Awareness & Cooperative Food Buying Program in a Rural Community - The project began with an awareness campaign in Horsefly. Posters and pamphlets were distributed and displayed throughout the community as well as through the mail to start people thinking about cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. For many people living in the Horsefly area the problem of improper nutrition that can lead to these diseases is often due to economics. The initial campaign material invited individuals to participate in developing the concept of a Cooperative Food Buying Program. The program encouraged individuals to pool their money in order to access the bargains offered at some of the stores in the area, where items must be purchased in large quantities before the lower price is accessed.

Northern Interior

  • Burns Lake Community Garden - The community garden project is designed to encourage individuals and families to work towards the goal of "healthy eating and active living," by becoming actively involved in producing nutritious foods for their personal use. This garden will evolve with the hard work of participants, volunteers and committee members.
  • The Prince George Native Friendship Centre (PGNFC) has developed a partnership towards Diabetes prevention that will offer services and resources from an Aboriginal cultural perspective. The project includes a Community Based Research (CBR) Initiative (Vancouver Foundation) and the HEAL project (NHA) funding and will include producing cultural materials, a teaching movable mural and developing individual awareness and capacity to understanding healthy eating and active living. A primary focus for all the Diabetes work will be documenting and restoring cultural knowledge, methods, foods and practices as tools to build capacity and prevent Type 2 Diabetes. We are also establishing other partnerships and initiatives in the area of Diabetes prevention that will be incorporated into what currently exists at PGNFC, and within the community as a whole in the area of Diabetes Prevention.

North West

  • Masset Good Foods - Active Living Storefront Project is a response to the high incidence of diabetes among residents of Haida Gwaii. We see the need and the opportunity to improve overall health in the community by providing education, resources and information, exercise and stress-reduction programs. We will facilitate healthier choices with an emphasis on traditional and contemporary preventative practices, programs that involve and motivate the people, and through providing access to good foods and people-to-people support through the Community Kitchen, the Graham Island Market, small scale food processing and an Internet Café.
  • Terrace Community Gardens have been a project of Terrace Anti-Poverty Group Society (Terrace, BC) since 1996. It began as a project for a Practicum Student from the University of Victoria, and has since expanded to two properties in excess of one acre, provided at no charge by the City of Terrace. The project began with no money and relied solely on donations, including a chain link fence paid for by the City of Terrace and Alcan in Kitimat. The gardens include: 36 family gardens, 7 children's gardens, 1 communal garden, 1 herb garden, 10 pumpkin patches and 2 strawberry patches. Funding for the gardens has traditionally come through Bingo and MAZON Canada; we now welcome our new partner, HEAL. Participants of the project include people who are on low income, social assistance, pension income, or are receiving minimum wage.
    • The goals of the program are:
      • Participants have adequate access to healthy, nutritious food.
      • Participants are knowledgeable about nutrition, budgeting, shopping and gardening.
      • Participants' children are healthier and better able to concentrate on their schoolwork.
      • Participants have learned new life skills and have improved life skills, self-esteem, socialization skills and pride.
      • Participants are better able to combat the onset of Type 2 Diabetes through education and the promotion of healthy eating and active living.
  • Smithers Northern Root - "The Garden to Kitchen" Program will promote educational, therapeutic, and nutritional exchange, as well as provide a source of healthy organic food for the local community. Supplying Smithers and the Bulkley Valley with a source locally grown, processed, and marketed foods, the program will empower local citizens with new skills and choice, which will lead to a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes. Utilizing the unique facilities located at the old experimental farm (Including a fully functional community kitchen), our staff and volunteers will transform raw foods into processed goods to be consumed by the local population, thus creating a viable and working food system. Locally sold, and labeled with educational packaging, the food will serve as a living model of an environmentally sound and healthful alternative.
  • Telkwa-Smithers Trail - Through communities and organizations support, to promote active, healthy living and reduce the risk of diabetes 2, obesity, heart and stroke disease, through the design, promotion, and education of the Regional Telkwa to Smithers Trail Plan linking the communities of Telkwa and Smithers (11 km in length). The focus of the trail plan will be to develop a safe, well lit path for cycling, walking, and cross country skiing commuter traffic between the two communities. The trail plan will include recommendations for a public awareness program to encourage use of the trail system as a means of incorporating an active living lifestyle into daily living routines, i.e., an employer incentive program for 10% off the purchase of a bike for those who cycle to work and school. The Trail Plan will include suggestions for sources of funding for the construction stage.

Peace Liard

  • Dawson Creek Community Garden Project - The Community Garden Network evolved out of the Dawson Creek Restoration Project. That project focused on the development of a walking path along the Dawson Creek, which runs through the centre of the city and through residential communities and ends in a recreational/camping area on the edge of the city. Once the path was completed the committee began developing natural viewing sites, bank restoration projects and a community garden. It was through this initiative that the Community Garden Network endeavor was born. In view of the increasing incidence of Type 2 diabetes, as well as cardiovascular and other chronic diseases, the community garden is playing a large role in primary prevention.

    In the next phase we will
    • Actively promote and inform the community of the existence of community gardens in their city.
    • Conduct workshops on gardening through the continuing education department at Northern Lights College and the City Recreation Department.
    • Conduct workshops through the diabetes clinic at the Peace Liard Health Unit.
    • Conduct a series of workshops aimed at community ownership and empowerment through community garden development for the Youth Reconnect and Grandview Alternative School
    • Be actively involved in promoting gardening TV programming and periodicals relevant to our northern climate.
    • Educate and expose people to sound organic gardening practices.
    • Prepare Community Garden pamphlets for spring 2002 season and have ready by March 1st for general circulation and publication in local papers.
    • Arrange neighbourhood meetings where new community gardens are being developed this spring and encourage the group to vision how their garden will look…include them in the planning from the beginning.
    • Create a Seed Ordering Service of GMO-free seed.
    • Work closely with the Mayor and Council on making entrances and approaches to gardens wheelchair accessible
    • Meet with School District #59 and the Dawson Creek Society for Community Living to begin planning garden sites around the school and low-cost housing units.
    • Develop a course outline and curriculum for the spring Continuing Education session on gardening.
  • Fort St. John Community Kitchen - The Fort St. John Community Kitchen will encourage healthy eating patterns and raising awareness of diabetes prevention among Aboriginal and other people of any ages. We will achieve this through providing guest speakers, resource material and activities on diabetes prevention, (exercise programs, group support and discussion, with an adult version of the food guide game made by The North West Company). By providing hands-on experience with meal planning, shopping and preparation.
  • Fort Nelson Community Garden - A community garden is a great way to increase access to nutritious, low-cost food in a community. It is rewarding for the participants as well as the community. A community garden is an opportunity for people to work together to grow their own produce for personal consumption and it is also an opportunity to provide fresh locally grown produce to the community in the form of farmer's markets, craft sales, and local fairs. The end result is increased consumption of vegetables in the community and overall healthier lifestyles of the participants due to increased physical activity. With increased consumption of vegetables comes decreased health risk for heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, just to name a few. A community garden builds community spirit and brings community agencies together for a common goal.