A TikTok tutorial, data discussion, and a Big Banana: The 2022 Canadian Injury Prevention Conference
Guest post by:
Megan Oakey, Provincial Manager, Injury Prevention, BC Centre for Disease Control
Samantha Bruin, Communications Manager, BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit
(Photos by Johnston Wang | BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit)
Over 170 injury prevention researchers, public health practitioners, government officials, and advocates gathered in Vancouver, B.C. for an insightful three-day event at the Canadian Injury Prevention Conference. This conference is a critical step to help prevent all the ways British Columbians are killed or seriously injured, in what is often called ‘the hidden epidemic.’ Injuries, such as falls, suicide and self-harm, and traffic injuries, are the leading cause of death for British Columbians aged 1 to 44—injuries result in more preventable life lost than cancer or heart disease.
The national conference took place from November 2 to 4, and was co-hosted by the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, Parachute, and the BC Centre for Disease Control. The BCCDC Foundation was a Bronze sponsor of the event. This was the first injury prevention conference held in Canada in almost ten years, and the opportunity for injury prevention advocates to meet in person, network, learn from each other, and share their research was invaluable.
The conference opening ceremony was one to remember. The Coastal Wolf Pack and Elder Alec Dan from Musqueam First Nation led a traditional welcome to territory. This was followed by addresses by Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, President of the Public Health Agency of Canada (via video address), and Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer.
André Picard, journalist for The Globe and Mail, gave the opening keynote. Mr. Picard discussed barriers and challenges to injury prevention initiatives in a post-pandemic world.
To draw attention to the conference and the issue of preventable injuries, the conference organizers partnered with Preventable, a non-profit organization, to place a giant banana peel in downtown Vancouver. The “Big Banana” reminded people that injuries are not just “accidents” and that most of the time, we can see them coming.
Conference attendees heard the latest research in topics including road safety, seniors fall prevention, drowning prevention, poisoning, and death by suicide among youth.
One of the plenaries was by Lucy Sager, founder of the All Nations Driving Academy, a driving school created specifically for First Nations peoples. Lucy talked about the life-changing effects of knowing how to drive and having access to a car.
There were four panel discussions during the conference. Panelists at the equity, diversity, and inclusion panel challenged attendees to take simple steps to make injury prevention research more equitable and inclusive. They encouraged us to consider culturally and geographically-specific interventions. During the panel, Why is injury prevention not a priority, we heard about how we can use timely data to communicate urgency about emerging issues and how to give injury prevention a “public relations makeover.”
The data and surveillance panel highlighted frustrations and gaps when it comes to injury data in Canada, and discussed best practices for data access and sensitivities when working with different groups of people on a project. Finally, there was a panel on the use of a traditional marketing approach to sell injury prevention to the public, using the Preventable campaign as an example.
The conference closed with a bang thanks to a dynamic keynote by Dr. Frederick Voon, an emergency medicine physician based in Victoria. Dr. Voon kept us on our toes with his stories from the emergency department, his sudden TikTok fame, and how we can get front-line workers to share injury prevention messaging.
Of course, the best part of the conference was connecting with our injury prevention colleagues from across the country after restrictions on travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference gave attendees—both those who are new to the field of injury prevention, or more experienced researchers and public health practitioners, the chance to connect, learn, and be inspired.
Once again, we are thankful to the BCCDC Foundation for helping to sponsor this important event that will make an impact in the health and safety of British Columbians.