Edition: Summer Solstice - Summer 2011
Vernal Equinox to Summer Solstice 2011
Rebirth, renewal; buds, blossoms … Spring has passed …
Growth, cleansing; seeds, shoots; light, leaves … Summer is upon us.
The Vernal Equinox (also known as Spring Equinox) occurred on Sunday, March 20, 2011, at 4:21 PM Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). Day and night were of equal length. The sun rose due east and set exactly due west.
Spring was a time of awakening - trees budded, crocuses and daffodils stretched their leaves out to the sun, birds chirped, and many animals awoke from their long slumber. It was a time of rebirth of the world after the cold winter. In the spring, we planted our gardens and herbs to grow and nourish us through the warm summer months. Through the spring, each day has become longer and longer until June 21, which was the longest day and shortest night of the year.
Summer solstice occurred June 21, 2011, 10:16 PDT (17:16 Greenwich Mean Time), when the sun reaches its most northern point in the sky – an instant in time. The word solstice derives from Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). After the sun stands still, the days begin to become shorter.
What We Do
The mandate of the Aboriginal Healthy Living Branch (the Branch) is to improve the health and well-being of Aboriginal peoples in British Columbia, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. Aboriginal people continue to be challenged by longstanding inequalities in health when compared to other British Columbians; the Aboriginal Health Branch provides stewardship and expertise to help close this gap in health status.
The Branch provides an Aboriginal lens to strategic priorities, legislation, policy and program development to the Ministry of Health and manages policy tables with a range of Aboriginal organizations. The Branch also works with the health authorities to ensure that planning processes address the needs of Aboriginal peoples and their services are delivered in a culturally appropriate way.
What Our Division Does
Simply put, the role of Population and Public Health Division is to protect and promote the health and well-being of British Columbians. The main functions of population and public health in British Columbia are to:
- Ensure British Columbians are provided with access to safe drinking water and food supplies;
- Develop and deliver provincial-wide vaccination programs;
- Assess, analyze, and report on the health status of British Columbians;
- Manage communicable disease outbreaks; and
- Encourage healthy behaviours to prevent chronic diseases and injuries.
There are two underlying principles in population and public health programs, services and institutions that differ from clinical medicine:
- The focus of public health is prevention rather than treatment of diseases; and
- Public health addresses the health needs of populations as a whole instead of individuals.
These principles allow public health to work in a complementary fashion to clinical medicine in all of its core functions.
As Minister of Health, I look forward to keeping you up to date on our progress on the initiatives underway to improve the health and well-being of Aboriginal people in British Columbia (BC). Many of these initiatives are firsts in Canada. This quarterly newsletter is a new way to inform you about these initiatives and the staff and partners working on them.
In May 2011, the provincial government and First Nations ratified the BC Tripartite Framework Agreement on First Nation Health Governance (the “Framework Agreement”). The federal government is going through its internal approval process now. Once ratified by all parties, the Framework Agreement will be a significant step toward creating a First Nations Health Authority and reducing the gap in health status between First Nations and other British Columbians.
Greetings from our Executive Director
I have to say that time has indeed just flown by these past few months and that I am surprised, once again, that another season has come and gone. Well sort of – as I have been told that this has not been a normal spring here in BC and that we are just going to go from a very long winter right into summer. Being a prairie girl and a gardener, I must beg to differ! Cherry blossoms everywhere! Rhododendrons showing their bright blossoms! ACHOO! Believe me, my allergies will attest to the fact that we really had spring, but every sneeze was worth it!
Recently we were gifted with an eagle feather.
Aboriginal ActNow Initiatives
As part of the Aboriginal ActNow BC initiative, this year’s ministry-sponsored challenge is helping to build capacity within Aboriginal communities to promote healthy living in four key areas:
• increased physical activity,
• healthy eating,
• reduction of tobacco misuse, and
• healthy pregnancies.
This year’s programming included two components: community training and a RunWalk program. We were excited to be serving our communities in partnership with SportMedBC and the Aboriginal Sports, Recreation and Physical Activity Partners Council.
First Nations Governance
The Ministry of Health has been working diligently with the First Nations Health Council and Health Canada to create a new First Nations health governing body in British Columbia. This work includes reaching agreement at several different levels. The first was the commitment made in the 2007 Tripartite First Nations Health Plan to develop a new First Nations health governing body.
Indigenous Cultural Competency
You may remember the Indigenous Cultural Competency Training overview that was provided in the December 2010 Newsletter. We thought you would be interested in an update regarding the uptake of this training by Ministry of Health staff.
In December 2010, the Provincial Health Services Authority Indigenous Cultural Competency training was included in Population and Public Health Division staff Employee Performance and Development Plans. As of May 9, 2011, 136 Ministry of Health employees have completed their PHSA ICC training, with approximately 864 yet to complete the training.