In this episode, Andrea and the production team discuss the origins of the podcast, where the name Tenfold came from and how excited they are to launch this podcast!
Andrea Bodkin is a health promoter who supports public health units in Ontario on a variety of topics such as planning, evaluation, partnerships and community engagement. Podcasting has been a dream of Andrea’s and she’s thrilled to be a part of the PHESC team bringing Tenfold to you.
In this episode, Lisa Attygalle from the Tamarack Institute joins Andrea to talk about community engagement.
Lisa describes community engagement as working together with the community to create the future that we want. Figuring out what we want the future to look like is an active conversation: once we have the future we want define, we can decide how we will work together to create it. Lisa recommends the IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum as a community engagement model. The spectrum describes engagement on five levels: inform; consult; involve; collaborate; and empower.
Community engagement is a critical part of public health practice as it’s important for communities to be involved in developing the solutions that affect their lives. Communities are context experts: they bring the voice of lived experience to the content experts (usually people in paid professional positions within the health sector). Pairing content and context expertise makes for better solutions that have community ownership. Not engaging communities can mean that our programs and services don’t meet the needs of communities and risk wasting resources. In this way, engaging communities can be a key to efficiently spending resources such as time, dollars, relationships and trust.
Before developing an engagement strategy, it’s important to consider WHY you are engaging prior to jumping determining the method of engagement (such as a survey or focus group). Lisa has 4 WHY questions:
One piece of advice that Lisa would give to those working in community engagement is to “close the loop” with communities. In other words, give feedback to the community on what was heard in the community engagement process and what was done with their ideas. You don’t have to have all of your “ducks in a row” before communicating with the community.
The Tamarack Institute’s many Community Engagement tools and resources can be found here. In particular, the article on Community engagement: a foundational practice of community change is a must read!
In her role at Tamarack, Lisa works with cities and organizations to help them meaningfully engage their communities. Over the last six years her work has focused on creating authentic engagement strategies and training staff teams, teaching and writing about innovative engagement methodologies, designing and facilitating workshops with a focus on raising the voice of the context expert, integrated communications planning, and the use of technology and creativity for engagement. Lisa advocates for simplicity in infrastructure, frameworks and design and loves applying the principles of marketing, advertising, loyalty, and user experience to community initiatives.
Lisa comes to this work from the private sector where she worked at one of Canada's leading communications firms with clients in agribusiness, healthcare, financial services and technology. Lisa brings private sector knowledge to public sector work. Hailing from Australia, Lisa also worked on major water infrastructure projects as the liaison between municipal government, engineering and the community.
Lisa’s other titles include Artist, Wife and Mum. On the side, Lisa is one of ten owners of Seven Shores Community Café in Waterloo, ON. She is also a Trustee of the KW Awesome Foundation - a group that provides no-strings attached grants for "awesome" community-based projects. To learn more about Lisa, click here.
In this episode, Andrea chats with Nicole Blackman from Durham Region Health Department about engaging with Indigenous communities. Nicole has three pieces of advice:
Before engaging Indigenous communities and organizations, Nicole recommends taking cultural awareness training to learn about Indigenous history and its impacts on health, social wellbeing and place in society today. The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres offers Indigenous Cultural Competency Training. The Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre also provides an Ontario Indigenous Cultural Safety Program. You can also check out PHESC’s webinar series on Indigenous Health Equity.
Nicole is a member of Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation but was born and raised in Durham Region. She currently sits on the board of directors for Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle and is Chair of the CELHIN Indigenous Advisory Circle. Academically, Nicole has been studying Indigenous health since 2006, recently completing her Doctor of Nursing Practice with her capstone project focusing on Indigenous programming from a public health perspective. Professionally, Nicole has had the privilege of serving as Director of Professional Practice for Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, working together with First Nation communities in the James and Hudson Bay region to address various health needs. Currently, Nicole is a manager with the Durham Region Health Department, working in the Population Health Division while also providing Indigenous cultural training. Nicole has strived to use her education, experiences and knowledge to work towards building awareness of the history of the Indigenous population and how that history impacts the population’s health today. She is a sessional instructor in the UOIT Health Sciences program and guest lectures at Trent University and Humber College, teaching future health care providers about Indigenous Peoples and health in Canada.
Episode 3 - Embedding Community Engagement into an Organization: Peterborough Public Health’s Experience
In this episode, Julie Brandsma from Peterborough Public Health joins Andrea to talk about embedding community engagement at the organizational level. Peterborough Public Health’s (PPH) community engagement journey began in 2013 when the health unit developed their strategic plan. “Community-centered focus” was identified as one of four strategic directions. This direction was important in order for the health unit to be accountable not only to the Ontario Public Health Standards, but also to the public and community agencies. The strategic direction recognizes the growing interest from the public to be involved in making decisions. The health unit selected the IAP2 Spectrum as a model to recognize what has already been done and to provide guidance on deepening efforts. This was approved by health unit managers. Next, PPH adapted the City of Peterborough’s community engagement guide for the public health context. The guide includes definitions, a step model and a variety of tools to help staff implement community engagement. To supplement implementation of the guide and tools, a core group of public health staff provide guidance around training and learning needs. PPH also has a set of “organizational expectations” that speak to the essence of what community engagement is and how it is done in the Peterborough Public Health context:
Regular listeners know that we end each podcast episode with an action step or concrete action that listeners can start with. Julie’s advice is to recognize that we have already started- we all have examples of what we/our organizations are already doing to involve communities in our work. Take time to stop and reflect on what you are doing now, how it is going, how we can build on strengths, and what you could change to make the engagement more meaningful and purposeful for the community themselves.
Julie Brandsma is presently a Health Promoter with Peterborough Public Health. The Journey that brought her to this point involves being a Public Health Nurse at Toronto Public Health, Course assistant for the Fleming/Trent University School of Nursing and nursing in home and hospital settings. She states that she has had the privilege of listening to, walking along side and learning from people’s stories and she hopes to continue. “When we tell our stories in a safe community, all those things that separate us go away.” Sarah Markley
Dianne Oickle has been a Knowledge Translation Specialist with the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH) since 2014. Prior to this she was a dietitian for 15 years in public health in Ontario focused on reproductive and child health in a mostly rural setting with many diverse clients, including those that live with inequities every day. Part of her work with NCCDH has been related to exploring how engagement with communities who experience health inequities can inform public health action to address social determinants of health. Her role includes working with the public health sector to move knowledge into action in practice, policy and decision making. NCCDH is based at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish NS, located in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People.
Gillian Kranias joins Andrea to explore the concepts of social power and privilege, and their role in community engagement. The dominant groups in our society- in Canada, in Ontario, in the towns we live in and in our communities- carry power and privilege, which means that non-dominant groups are historically and continue to be marginalized and oppressed. There can be a distance between those that carry social power, and those who lack it. Being aware of those distances, noticing who we do not hear from and who we are not connected to, and then beginning to listen, can help to shorten that distance.
Having power gives us access to resources: money, access to space, time, mental energy, staffing etc. Gillian suggests several ways to shift power to communities:
Gillian’s closing piece of advice is to think about what relationships can support you in an ongoing way in your learning journey to becoming better professionals. Perhaps that’s a peer or colleague that you can connect with regularly, or perhaps journaling or reflecting on your own. This helps to make an ongoing commitment to the work.
First and foremost, let’s “change who we are learning from…” Here are some podcasts made by community members we are listening to:
Here are some resources designed by professionals for professionals:
Gillian Kranias is a Bilingual Health Promotion Consultant at Health Nexus, with depth and breadth of experience supporting and co-leading initiatives that advance equity and promote community and environmental health. She favours participatory facilitation and evaluation approaches that support diverse people to work together in a good way and that value and center the voices of people from marginalized communities. Her own knowledge, resources and skills derive from decades of “learning through action” alongside equity-seeking communities as well as a M.E.S. in Environmental Studies (York University) and a Certificate in Community-Based Research (Wellesley Institute).
In this episode, Andrea is joined by Brandon Agnew and Donna Mills from Niagara Region Public Health, and community member Jennifer Symonds to talk about Niagara Region’s Lived Experience Advisory Network (LEAN).
Niagara Region started LEAN in 2018 to bring two parties together- public health, and people who experience poverty- to talk about the intersections between poverty and health in Niagara, and problem solve solutions to improve health outcomes. LEAN leverages the skills, talent and experiences of people who live in poverty and empowers them to be community leaders, to think outside of the box and look for innovative solutions. LEAN is also creating social connections between network members, and community connections between service providers.
There are several “ingredients” that allow LEAN to be successful:
An important consideration when engaging people with lived/living experience is making meetings accessible, safe and comfortable. Brandon and Donna asked community members to choose how often they want to meet, where they want to meet and select meeting spaces that are comfortable (for example the atrium or cafeteria as opposed to a boardroom). Every monthly meeting includes dinner, which everyone eats together. Children and youth are welcome at meetings. Brandon and Donna promote car sharing, provide gas cards and taxi chits to make it easy and affordable for members to attend meetings. LEAN members are provided with an honorarium for each meeting. When shaping each agenda, Brandon lets the community set the pace in terms of meeting frequency and topics, and alternates meeting formats to include celebrations and casual conversations.
We end the episode with advice for listeners to consider as they engage people with lived experienced. Jennifer’s advice is to “just do it”: the benefits outweigh any risks or challenges. Donna’s advice is to make the engagement authentic and be ready to implement the advice and suggestions that you receive. Brandon’s advice is see the gifts and talents that people have, as opposed to the deficits.
Thanks to the Tenfold team and Niagara’s IT folks for making this episode possible!
Brandon Agnew is a Community Health Broker with Niagara Region Public Health. He is inspired by everyday people who do awesome things.
Jennifer Symonds is a proud member of Westview Centre4Women, Queenston Neighbours and the LEAN. She is committed to connecting with people and agencies she never thought she would have.
Donna Mills is a Health Promoter with Niagara Region Public Health, with a current focus on Priority Populations. She is excited to be part of this Tenfold podcast and sharing her highlights of the Living Experience Advisory Network with you.