One of our Public Engagement and CHB Support Members had an opportunity to sit down with Barbara Ross.
Barbara is currently the CHB Chair for the Queens County CHB. Barbara was asked several questions about why she joined the Queens Count CHB and why she continues to volunteer. Check out the transcript of that conversation below:
Interviewer: Hi Barbara. Thank you so much for taking the time to connect with me discuss your role with the Community Health Boards.
Barbara: Thanks for interviewing me. I’m happy to be able to speak to the role of the CHBs and the work they do. We, as CHBs, have a lot of influence. Remember, we are members of the community. I think we have underestimated how dynamic CHBs can be. The sky is the limit, really. It’s such an under-taped asset. There is so much drive on these Boards.
Interviewer: Can you tell me a little about yourself? What are your interests? Passions? Experiences?
Barbara: I was born and brought up on the east coast of Scotland in a small fishing town. My family and I immigrated to Calgary, Canada in 2003, just before my 50th Birthday. I loved Calgary. We had never lived in a city before but I didn’t want to retire there and we had been to visit Nova Scotia many times throughout the years and so I had a good idea this was where we were going to settle. My husband and I are now retired and live in Mill Village on the South Shore. I have been a RN, Midwife and Public Health Nurse for more than 40 years and I have been a social activist for as long as I can remember. The last 30 years of my career in Public Health focused on the delivery of primary healthcare to the most marginalised and disenfranchised populations in our communities.
Interviewer: Barbara, when did you join the Queens CHB?
Barbara: I joined the Board in September 2016. I had met a couple of Queens County CHB members at a Corn Bake they had organised to highlight affordable, healthy food and they encouraged me to apply. In September 2017, I became the Chair.
Interviewer: What interested you in this volunteer opportunity?
Barbara: I strongly believe in the power of communities to address the social determinants of health. When communities work together to address things like social isolation, sustainable food sources like community gardens or do healthy eating education anything can happen. How do you know what community members are going though unless you ask?
We all have a role to play in providing safe, healthy and inclusive communities whether it is reaching out and welcoming newcomers and individuals who are socially isolated, engaging residents through our community health planning process or advocating for affordable, secure housing, supporting community gardens or connecting individuals to available recreational and wellness resources.
For me personally, participating as a member of the Queens CHB is a perfect transition from my professional career in Public Health, retirement and moving to a new community.
Interviewer: Barbara, I’m curious--what is your favourite CHB activity and why?
Barbara: Building partnerships to address local wellness issues that impact our community. Something I am particularly passionate about was preparing Queens Country for the legalisation and regulation of Cannabis.
Interviewer: What would you say to someone who was thinking about volunteering with a CHB?
Barbara: I would say that CHBs are a committed group of volunteers who are working together to improve the health of their communities. Understanding the health and social needs of a community is through deep-rooted local connections. As a member of your community you bring the valuable asset of your experience and knowledge to the CHB.
Interviewer: Ok Barbara—last question. In your opinion, do you think the CHB has made a difference in your community? If so, how?
Barbara: Health and wellness are largely determined by the environments and conditions we live in. Community empowerment and grassroots activism led by CHBs is at the core of effectively addressing the social determinants of health.
I have every confidence that the future of CHBs is strong. Yes, I think CHBs have made huge strides but I also believe we are just at the starting line.
I say to people who are interested in joining: be part of the solution, be part of the movement. The CHB needs your skills and your knowledge of the community.