Strathcona Community Health Network Coordinator Libby King is going to be making some big changes.
King has been the coordinator at SCHN since 2017. However recently she has decided to pursue another passion: creative writing. King is going to be studying creative writing full time, which has led her to move on from her role at SCHN.
Over the last four years, King has helped SCHN in its work to address the housing crisis that has crept north to the region.
“We started working in the housing area and worked on doing the housing needs assessment. That was when there were mumblings that the housing crisis was starting to come up to the north Island,” she said. “There were a lot of conversations in the non-profit housing sector and we needed to have a more coordinated response.”
That response included things like the housing needs assessment, working to help establish the Coalition to End Homelessness, the Affordable Housing Benefits Everyone campaign and the Urban Indigenous Housing and Wellness Coalition.
“None of these things by themselves change everything, but they just start to build a conversation where we understand what the housing pressures are and that there are interventions that we can take. Specifically for the health network, its all about evidence-based interventions that are important for the work that we did,” she said. “This isn’t mysterious, there are things that do work and we can find out what they are and quickly implement them.”
The Health Network program is run through Island Health, which looks at how the social determinants of health can affect the health and well-being of the whole community.
“So much of it comes from housing, transportation, access to food security and in the pandemic we’re really seeing what healthcare at the needle end, the importance of that,” she said. “Of course we know it every day, but it’s (Island Health’s) way of articulating that health is much more than hospitals, doctors and nurses. It’s about our communities.”
King also emphasized “the importance of seeing community health as interconnected. For example, residential schools and other negative impacts from colonialism have directly contributed to the over-representation of Indigenous people amongst those experiencing homelessness.
“If we have empathy for those who have been negatively impacted by residential schools, then we must also have empathy for those who continue to experience trauma and inequality because of them. Evidence-based interventions in areas such as housing are important ways to support reconciliation.”
While a new coordinator will take the Health Network in a new direction, King is proud of the relationships with other organizations in the region.
“The organisations the Health Network connects with is what makes it such a valuable community tool. I (want to give) a shout out to Nick Chowdhury and Kim Toonders who are the Co-Chairs and particularly mention how great it’s been to work with Laichwiltach Family Life Society, the Divisions of Family Practice, North Island Employment, Greenways Land Trust, and other community partners.”