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The Canadian Index of Wellbeing: Shifting the Conversation

By Gillian Kranias, HC Link

How do we shift the conversation - and the measurements – to really notice and foster wellbeing in our communities? Community Health Centres (CHCs) across Ontario, in collaboration with their Association of Ontario Health Centres, have taken bold and creative leadership on this topic, adopting and experimenting with the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW).

On Wednesday July 23, four CHCs shared their stories of adopting and experimenting with the Canadian Index of Wellbeing.

  • From Woodstock we learned how CIW fostered a "twinning" between public knowledge and expert knowledge.

  • From Woolwich we heard a story of how research with CIW's community vitality domain led to one new initiative supporting volunteer development at CHC partner organizations and another that will enhance welcoming activities for newcomers.

  • From Bourget, we gained mid-project insights on just how important each methodological choice can be along the way (and how early adopters must be adapters too!)

  • From Ottawa, we were inspired by a city-wide coalition that will use key CIW findings to inform and enhance civic engagement initiatives.

What we learned from the combined presentations was:

  • The CIW is a multi-purpose tool! ...and seeing others using the tool is a great way to build one's own capacity and confidence to do it yourself (DIY).
  • There are limitations with this tool – like any. It was great that the speakers were willing to articulate those limitations. With more information, we will know better how to meet some of them.
  • The language of CIW is as valuable as the indicators. Several stories spoke to how it fostered bridges across organizations and sectors, and most importantly between expert knowledge and community-based knowledge.

You can watch the videos yourself to take away your own learnings. You can also use these videos in conversation with your community. You can even join in "shifting the conversation" - check out AOHC's website for more resources.

At HC Link, we celebrate the collaborative leadership of Ontario organizations and communities who are ushering the Canadian Index of Wellbeing in to our ways of conversing, measuring, celebrating and acting: for healthier communities for everyone.

Here are some links to earlier dissemination events where HC Link partnered with AOHC:

The CIW Early Adopter story video footage was recorded at AOHC's Summer Institute titled "Community Health and Wellbeing: Moving from Information to Transformation" held in Orillia on July 23, 2014. This event was co-hosted with the Simcoe County Resilience Collaborative.

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