Your Health and Climate Change

1. Origin of Project

The project ”Your Health and Climate Change” originated in Suzuki Elder Eva Wadolna’s pursuits exploring various aspects of healthy aging in a supportive and nurturing environment, and her desire to combine strands of her diverse professional background into the composition of this Project.

Her volunteer involvement in the City of Vancouver Seniors Advisory Committee (SAC), the Community Engagement and Advocacy Network at Vancouver Coastal Health (CEAN – VCH) and the Suzuki Elders (SE), associated with the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF), acted as a spring board to the project that would allow others to get engaged in the exploration of the subject of health and environment.

The Suzuki Elders appeared to be the best setting for staging a public education event for older adults relating the issue of health to environmental conditions surrounding our lives. She shared this idea with her MLA, the Honourable George Hayman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. He has expressed interest in her approach to seeking the grass-roots opinions of older adults on health in the context of the growing importance of climate change.

Having secured cooperation from the South Granville Seniors Centre (SGSC) in Vancouver and the friendly support from her colleagues at CEAN, Eva embarked on the project. A small team of Suzuki Elders agreed to back her endeavour. To increase the likelihood of success, Eva suggested the two-steps process she calls the “escalator process”. It includes the staging of a rehearsal or a pilot project as a learning tool before embarking on the more complex and more significant public event. For her, it means an intensified opportunity for learning and broader exposure to a particular issue, giving it increasing public prominence.

2. Project Summary

The “Health and Climate Change” Suzuki Elders Project found its expression in two public events, and the Report. The key event, the Salon, took place on June 7, 2018, from 1:00 – 4:30 pm at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver. The Salon was attended by about 90 people, including volunteers. It constituted an enlargement of the workshop of the same name held on May 4, 2018, at the South Granville Seniors’ Centre that was attended by 30 people; the expansion applied to the scope, size and complexity of the event.

The learning part of the Salon included a brief presentation by Eva Wadolna on climate change (PowerPoint and 2 videos). She used, among other relevant sources, the materials from the City of Vancouver, the “Metro Vancouver Climate 2050” project, and research on the public health impact of climate change from the BC Ministry of Health (MOH), the World Health Organization (WHO) and data from the United Kingdom medical journal The Lancet.

Brad Badelt, the Assistant Director of Sustainability for the City of Vancouver, talked about the city’s “Climate Change Adaptation strategy” 2012 report; he emphasised that the City is focused on adaptation, while still involved in mitigation efforts as per the “Greenest City 2020” report. Brad also explained various means the City is using to help citizens with the impact of heat, wind, severe rain and air pollution. 

Dr. Robert Woollard, a UBC professor, provided a stimulating overview of the key salon subject “What is known about the health consequences of climate change?”

The topic continued with a thought-provoking presentation by Dr. Tim Takaro, an SFU professor. 

Amy Lubik, Ph.D., introduced the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) and discussed her research on socio-economic determinants of health.

Amy was followed by Emily Peterson, an Environmental Health Scientist from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), who offered information on her organization’s health prevention policies in response to climate change. 

Dr. Lisa Mu, a Medical Health Officer with the Fraser Health Authority, provided an excellent wrap-up to the panel by putting the issues into the broad context of public health and international research.

Dr. Woollard closed this part of the salon by supporting the panelists’ position that the Ministry of Health (MOH) should allocate more resources to preventative activities, and, in conjunction with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (MOE), develop a clear policy on climate change and its impact on the health and well-being of the general public.

In the second part of the Salon, eight facilitators at eight tables each with eight participants obtained input from the older adults (seniors) to 3 questions:

1 – What are your experiences of climate change to date?

2 – How does climate change affect personal and family health and well-being?

3 – What do you see as the role of regional health authorities, the City of Vancouver, and the provincial and federal governments in terms of climate change impact?

The summary of the notes collected on the flip-charts from the Workshop at SGSC, flip-charts (27) from the Salon, and a thorough evaluation of the event is included in the Report.

The operational goals of the project, a fruitful collaboration with other organizations and expanding the interest in SE, have both been met. The project involved a total of 18 volunteers (7 from SE), and the technical assistance of an employee of DSF and one from SGSC. The Salon was also attended by three observers from the government. The promotion of the salon included various organizations beyond SE, DSF, CEAN-VCH and SGSC.

3. Project Goals

During six months of work on this project, the initial goals were reformulated into two categories.

1.The external goals of the Project:

“To obtain grass-roots input from older adults living in Vancouver of their perceptions of the impact on personal/family health and public health of climate change, and to probe their expectations of the responsibility of the various government agencies for prevention, adaptation and mitigation.”

The mechanism for accomplishing this goal included organizing a public event that offered a learning opportunity while seeking input to the above goals of the Project.

2. The internal goals of the Project included:

  • Bringing a higher profile to the brand of Suzuki Elders-DSF,
  • Increasing the SE membership,
  • Collaborating with other organizations (e.g. SGSC),
  • Reaching out to a new audience by expanding the promotional activities.

The project’s external goals were posted in promotional fliers (e.g. Eventbrite registration form), the event’s programs (the Salon Program in Attachment #1), and divided into three questions for the conversation part of the Workshop at SGSC and the Salon (See above in Chapter #2, Project Summary).

The goals constituted the base for the evaluation of the Salon. (See Chapter #8, Evaluation of the Salon).


The remaining sections of this report can be found in the attached PDF: