With the highest rates of both preventable and treatable premature mortality in BC (194.5 and 45.7 deaths per 100,000 population, respectively), the Northern Health Authority has the lowest health status in BC. The 2018 Report of the BC Provincial Health Officer documents deep inequalities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Disparities in well-being are a pressing health issue that require multi-disciplinary and cross-community collaboration and partnership for innovative thinking, working and acting.
There is increasing consensus that health-based creative arts enhance human well being. Human interaction with their geographical place (environment, ecosystems, plants, animals, water and air), culture (history, art, movement and expression), community and social structure (nation, community, family), ability and agency (personal condition, literacy, rights and freedoms), and societal forces and legacies (governance, policies, colonialism, racism, economics, poverty) all come to bear on human health and well-being. The unequal sharing of resources, services and spaces through these social determinants result in equalities of health with some peoples bearing a larger burden of illness, poor health and discomfort than others. Addressing northern, rural and First Nations health inequities in BC requires new, outside-the-box creative research that recognizes health, healing and renewing well-being as an integrated endeavour equally involving science and art. HARC seeks to contribute to renewing health and well-being in northern and First Nations communities by addressing health inequities through:
- Advancing new strategies anchored in creative arts and social determinants of health that produce innovative ways of addressing health inequities
- Developing these new strategies based on the strengths and resiliencies of northern and First Nations communities
- Using creative arts to increase interest in, sustain and support multi-disciplinary and cross-community collaborations for addressing health and well-being issues
HARC was proudly supported for eight years by a Michael Smith Foundation Scholar Award held by Dr. Sarah de Leeuw of the University of Northern British Columbia Northern Medical Program, and in partnership with the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health (NCCIH), and Northern Health. HARC is now generously supported through Canada Research Chairs, Canadian Institute of Health Research, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and Michael Smith Foundation funding.