Wellness is…. simpler than you think

I feel like the health care system makes wellness complex, when it is actually quite simple: we achieve wellness when we are connected with ourselves, a community and creation. Wellness means equally honouring our individuality in balance with all other aspects of life. ~ Dr Sarah Williams

Dr Sarah Williams is Anishnaabe (Ojibwa) from Curve Lake First Nation, Ontario, where she was born and raised. In addition, Sarah also considers herself from Namekosipiing (Trout Lake), which is her mother’s homeland, located in northwestern Ontario. Currently, Sarah resides in Victoria, B.C. with her partner and his two daughters.

In 2011, Sarah completed her family medicine residency training at UBC in the First Nations Health program. Prior to this, she attended Trent University and the University of Manitoba for her undergraduate studies, and received her medical degree from McMaster University.

Sarah is a Senior Advisor for Health Services with the First Nations Health Authority and will present a Healthy Living Workshop at the Wellness Gathering on Thursday October 25.

Since the very beginning, the First Nations Health Authority has had a keen interest in understanding what traditional wellness means to First Nations communities and how traditional approaches to wellness can lead to better health outcomes. The FNHA is particularly interested in finding ways to protect, incorporate and promote First Nations knowledge, beliefs, values, practices, medicines and models of health and healing into all health programs and services that serve BC First Nations.”

A scan was carried out by the FNHA to see what had been done by communities in the area of traditional wellness – to learn first-hand from communities what works and what doesn’t in terms of incorporating traditional wellness into First Nations health programs and services. Many important teachings were derived from this scan. However, it became evident that, much like a circle, the FNHA needed to have a foundation from which to begin the journey toward transformation, toward a health system that is truly grounded in First Nations wellness concepts and values.

With this vision in mind, in 2011 the FNHA began the development of a Wellness Model. This Wellness Model provides a visual depiction and description of the FNHA vision: Healthy Children, Families and Communities and is intended to be used as a tool for both internal and external stakeholders in order to create shared understanding of the holistic vision of wellness shared by BC First Nations. It can be the basis for planning work and/or used to create shared understanding. As well it can be used as a stand-alone visual, or used by individuals and/or communities to develop their own holistic model of wellness.

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