Health, Creative Arts, and Northern Communities

With the highest rates of premature mortality at 3.71/1,000 people, the Northern Health Authority has the lowest health status in BC. Dr. Sarah de Leeuw’s research seeks to address this issue by examining how creative arts and the humanities can help resolve health inequities experienced by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in northern BC.

To do this, she will draw on her previous research as well as growing global evidence that shows how medical humanities and health-based creative arts can enhance well-being. She will also look at how social determinants of health frameworks can explain health disparities.

She will lead a team of northern BC community advisors, health researchers, and medical/health science students. The team will develop and deploy multi-disciplinary creative methods and methodologies to harness, document, translate, and disseminate existing northern strengths – especially First Nations’ – as a population health and wellness initiative.

Her research will:

  • Advance new methods, approaches, and models – anchored in creative arts and social determinants of health frameworks – that produce and translate innovative ways of addressing health inequities.
  • Promote rural, northern and First Nations communities through the creative arts as places where health service providers want to live and work.
  • Use creative arts to increase interest by locals – particularly First Nations – to pursue health and medical education and training within the region and to then stay in the region.
  • Encourage multi-disciplinary cross-community collaborations.
  • Augment northern health education curricula (nursing, social work, medicine, community health) with accessible, targeted, and affecting knowledge.
  • Circulate strengths-based evidence about populations in the Northern Health Authority – especially First Nations – beyond the borders of the health authority with the intent of encouraging southern, urban, and non-Indigenous British Columbians to feel vested in the wellness of BC’s northern populations.