What do health and wellness and literacy have to do with each other? A lot! Research shows that people with higher levels of literacy and essential skills are generally healthier and live longer.
They are better able to communicate with health care providers, navigate the health care system, and have fewer medication errors. They tend to have higher incomes and are able to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle and diet. Our health and wellness impact our ability to learn and develop our skills. At the same time, higher literacy levels generally result in children having healthy food to fuel their school day, and more active Elders able to learn new things.
This winter NWT Literacy Council staff members travelled to 11 communities to take part in Community Healthy Living Fairs. We got to visit communities we have never been to before, and in other communities we reconnected with old friends and colleagues.
We took along lots of the Council’s resources such as Eating and Learning, Recipes for Fun, Northern Biographies, and our newsletters. Our most popular items were our colour changing pencils and homemade play dough. Kids were very excited to pick out their own free book, and adults appreciated our bags to carry all of the items they collected from the various booths.
For me, a personal highlight of the Healthy Living Fairs was the Strengthening Partnerships events held before the fairs. This was a chance for the community organizers to show off their community, and for guests from different groups to get to know each other. Though many of us visiting the communities were from Yellowknife, we don’t often get the opportunity to meet and discuss what our organizations are doing to support wellness, and how we can support each other.
My favourite fair was in Deline. I’ve visited the community several times, but during this trip I learned much more about the community’s history and culture. We visited a winter culture camp and the Prophet’s House, and then learned about caribou hide tanning, beading and making pemmican. I loved learning new stories about the community during the family fun night, and from visitors to our booth at the fair. I even got a few North Slavey language lessons.
The Aboriginal Health and Community Wellness Division in the Department of Health and Social Services planned these fairs, along with local organizers.
Thank you so much to the organizers for inviting us to the fairs, and to the amazing host communities. We hope you enjoy the resources you got from the Literacy Council. We would love to hear what your favourites are.
— Katie Johnson