Women in northern, rural and remote communities in British Columbia live an average of 4 years less than women of similar age and circumstances living in the southern part of the province (Annual Report of the BC Provincial Health Officer, 2001). Similarly, women in northern communities face higher rates of violence and have less access to treatment, resources and services. Factors such as geography, climate and issues related to age, culture, poverty, (dis)ability and socio-economic status tend to isolate women within their given community.
In an effort to address some of the issues impacting northern women, the Northern Secretariat of the BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health was established at UNBC. The Northern Secretariat was part of a national network of Centres of Excellence that began in 1996. The program was established to address the imbalance of health care and health status faced by women, particularly those who are socio-economically marginalized. Through policy-oriented research, it contributes to evidence-based decision-making about women's health, health care and health promotion. As of March 31, 2001, the Northern Secretariat became Northern FIRE: The Centre for Women's Health Research at UNBC.
One major initiative of Northern FIRE was the Women North Project, a community development/research project that aimed at strengthening connections between women across the north. The Women North Network is focused on building a network of women and women's organizations in northern British Columbia. This network is becoming an important part of bringing women together to share information and develop joint health-related research, action, and policy initiatives.
This virtual community of women utilizes the internet and other information and communication technology (ICT) as a means to overcome geographic isolation through the online components. These components include a WNN Email News Distribution List, a publicly accessible WNN Website.
MSc (Psych), MSW, RSW
Chair & Associate Professor, UNBC School of Social Work
Research Associate and Network Coordinator
Location: UNBC Bank of Montreal (BM0) Centre, 1310 3rd Avenue, Prince George