Good Medicine: The FNHA Wellness Team “Walks the Talk” and Leads by Example!



The Wellness Team with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer did a 42.2-km weekend walk / run to celebrate the successful conclusion of their “30x30 Active Challenge" wellness initiative and to keep the exercise habit rolling.

On Sunday, October 4th, the four members of the FNHA's Wellness Team were up before dawn, sipping their cups of coffee, and preparing themselves mentally for a 42.2-km run/walk along Xwáýx̱way and Sen̓áḵw (the two traditional village sites along the Vancouver Seawall).


Dr. Nel Wieman from Little Grand Rapids First Nation, Janene Erickson from Nak'azdli Whut'en, and Katie Skelton from Henvey Inlet First Nation, started their walk at 6:00 a.m., and Jordie Johnson from Esk'etemc First Nation started his run at 7:00 a.m.

All four teammates were dressed for the chilly morning and cloudy day as they set out on their self-determined walk/run, which they called “42 Clicks to Xwáýx̱way" as a way of paying respect to the traditional sites on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples – sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.


Walking the wellness talk and leading by example

The momentum from the FNHA 30x30 Active Challenge (to be active for at least 30 minutes for each of the 30 days of September) helped the Wellness Team to keep going and do this 42.2-km walk/run, which served as a celebration for the successful conclusion of the challenge.

A few members of the team had goals to run races this year that were cancelled due to COVID-19, so they enthusiastically embraced the idea of checking off a wellness bucket list item during 2020. (Well, some may have been a little less enthusiastic than others, but hey, that's what a team is for – team spirit, team support!)

The Wellness Team believes that people lead by example and that every person can be a Wellness Champion who creates “wellness ripples" in their circles of influence (family, friends, and community) by deciding to make healthy choices. We encourage Wellness Champions across the province to continue on your 30x30 Active Challenge wellness journeys even past the 30 days of September! Check out the amazing life changes made by two Wellness Champions who continued on from last year's 30x30 Active Challenge: Kym and Jessie. Then look for opportunities to share and include others in the steps you are taking towards a healthy, vibrant, self-determined you!

Safety Matters

The pandemic has made large-scale gatherings difficult, so we kept our bubble small and had only a very small celebration at the finish line. Instead of having friends or family there to cheer us on, we shared our journey via Facebook along the way. 

We planned out our race route beforehand, ensuring there were washrooms, water stations, and other essentials that we could safely access along the route.

We also made sure to follow precautions and safety considerations provided by the Provincial Health Officer, the First Nations Health Authority and the other health authorities.

And we made sure to take breaks and stretch at regular intervals. Each of us listened to our body and made sure to keep ourselves and our teammates safe.  

Here are some reflections from the team:

Dr. Nel Wieman, Acting Deputy Chief Medical Officer

“It's always been a dream of mine to complete a marathon.  Unfortunately, chronic foot injuries have prevented me from being able to run long distances – but I can walk.  And I was so happy to have achieved my goal alongside my Wellness Team members – we inspire each other to be Wellness Champions!" 

Jordie Johnson, Senior Coordinator, Wellness Initiatives

“In December 2019, I began a four-month training program to run my first marathon, the Hapalau Marathon in Hawaii.  One week before the event, the pandemic was announced and it changed everything, including my wellness goal of crossing that finish line in Hawaii.  I was disappointed, but I am grateful that my team encouraged me to do this run / walk with them.  I am happy that “42 Clicks to Xwáýx̱way" is my first marathon, and it was with friends!" 

Katie Skelton, Manager, Community Arrangements, Community Development Team

“I am fortunate to be surrounded by Wellness Champions. Over the years, this is something I have gotten used to. On any given month, the Wellness Champions I work with at the FNHA will challenge me to eat salad every day, take the stairs, drink more water, do 30 days of yoga or do the 30x30 Active Challenge. This year, we all acknowledged that 2020 was especially hard – mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. So, collectively we decided to make a decision to make our mark on a year that was going down in history as not-so-great! We wanted to make 2020 our year! With a bit of planning, persuasion, and cheerleading – we did it. All 42.2 km of it! Thankful to the Wellness Champions I get to call coworkers and friends!" 

Janene Erickson, Partnership Development & Initiatives

“It was SO great to set out and accomplish something out of this crazy year of COVID – and we got bucket list items done!  Janelle's part of our team and currently on maternity leave so we all got a wonderful surprise when she showed up at the finish line to cheer us in. She made the finish line special for all of us with a cheer sign, Epson salts, bath bombs and fresh fruit from her papa's garden - she's such an amazing human being!! It felt great to feel some endorphins again, demonstrate the amazing team spirit our team has, and role model what we're encouraging our communities to do (not necessarily a marathon, but supporting each other in their wellness) – especially as we're looking towards an abnormal Fall and Winter ahead."

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