BCCDC Foundation Year in Review
If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that time is a strange concept. In thinking about time, we realized that our work at the Foundation has reached a one-year milestone.
The BCCDC Foundation was born in 2004, but it was only last year that we became a public-facing organization and began to actually engage directly with you, the people of British Columbia. We gave ourselves a makeover, took stock of who we are and what we wanted to achieve, and here we are: your provincial public health charity.
Public health is broad; it took us time to crystalize the change we wanted to create in the world. A year in, what we’ve landed on is this:
We believe we can improve the quality of life for British Columbians by investing in projects that improve health equity and social justice, by supporting upstream solutions to our modern problems, and by empowering people to take control of their health.
In other words: when we have equality and equity in our society, we all benefit. When we address root causes of issues, we see positive changes in our health and communities. When we take an active role in improving the health of our population, we’re better protected and can drive well-being in all aspects of our lives.
These core values have come through in the work we’ve done, and chosen to support at the BC Centre for Disease Control over the past year.
Reducing harms, the overdose crisis, and stigma
Through our Reducing Harms Priority, we worked closely with Toward the Heart (BCCDC’s Harm Reduction Services). The overdose crisis and stigma against people who use drugs has been ravaging our province for years. This is having catastrophic outcomes; people are not getting the support they need and are dying at alarming rates because of systemic inequities. We launched an anti-stigma campaign to break it down: your words matter. Change your language, remove the stigma, help curb the overdose crisis.
We also funded the expansion of a BCCDC program: Compassion, Inclusion, Engagement (CIE). CIE provides peer groups (people with lived experience of substance use), particularly those that are Indigenous and in remote/rural communities, with funding and capacity-building support to lead overdose response, harm reduction, and anti-stigma projects across BC. CIE empowers peers to create change at a local level, engage in life-saving overdose prevention work, and change the conversation with their local community about substance use.
During the #COVID19 pandemic, one of the groups we funded through CIE, Vernon Entrenched People Against Discrimination (VEPAD), set up a booth outside a library to hand out #naloxone & provide education on #overdose response: https://t.co/h038WYeOW1@towardtheheart @fnha— BCCDC Foundation (@BCCDCFoundation) June 30, 2020
Activate Health is our battle cry for British Columbia (check it out on Instagram). It’s about empowering you to take control of your health and illustrate how our individual actions make a population-level difference.
Taking control of your health isn’t just about eating healthy and going for a jog (though, those are good, too!). You can take control of your health and improve our population’s health by being kind, curbing air pollution, recycling, using regular soap instead of antimicrobial soaps, and standing up against injustice. It’s all linked—social movements, the environment, social connectedness, law and policy, racial justice, and everything in-between impacts our health. And we have the power to improve it for ourselves and for others, making a difference to the health of society.
We couldn’t look back on the last year without including COVID-19. The pandemic has shown the world why we need public health, and why we need to invest in solutions before a crisis hits. Public health experts (like our superhero colleagues at the BC Centre for Disease Control) have been working to protect us and prevent a situation like this since…well, public health emerged as a field. Their work has prevented other epidemics and outbreaks, and what will get us through this. And yet, public health still receives less than 5% of government health funding in BC.
COVID-19 is scary, but we’re glad to see people invested in public health like never before. By partnering with the BCCDC we’re helping ensure that we’re prepared if something like this happens again—and you are making that possible. With the help of our donors, together we’re funding the research that will protect British Columbians from a second wave and future outbreaks.
Because of your support, we’re able to show BC that you don’t have to be a scientist to make a difference and fight this pandemic: you have the power to protect yourself, your community, and improve public health. You can wash your hands, you can stay home when you’re sick, and you can donate to the solutions that will prevent a future pandemic. Whatever you do, you’re making a difference. But we need all of us to be all-in to make it really work.
It’s been a full year. COVID-19 will be around for some time. But, we’re going to keep working with our BCCDC colleagues and with you to fight it every step of the way.
We’re going to continue advocating for health equity, and supporting public health solutions that tackle the root causes of health disparities. And of course, we’re going to keep inviting you to take control of your health and join us in our battle cry: Activate Health.
We’ll see what another year does for the health of our province. We think that with your help, it’ll look bright.