What defines a healthy community?




Growing up in Campbell River, I have witnessed the evolution of the city’s culture. It used to be an industry town, but this has shifted with the closure of the mill and increasing environmental pressure on forestry and aquaculture. The community’s priorities have evolved along with it—a thriving community is no longer defined solely by economics, but by its health. And, in response to this shift, health services beyond the traditional medical system are on the rise.

Campbell River invites young professionals and families who prioritize an active and healthy lifestyle to put down roots here. After having moved away for school, it’s what called me back to the Island to set up my own holistic health service. I created Wild Well-Being to offer yoga for personal transformation—healing relationships by breaking cycles of dysfunction, trauma, and negative behaviour. This is a relief for folks who have tried traditional forms of therapy and don’t see the change they’re searching for. The best barometer for the health of a community, defined by its individuals, is connection. Living in the same place doesn’t create a community. A sense of belonging and connection to those around you does. And a healthy individual is deeply connected to Self.

Mental health services were once limited to doctors analyzing you with a clipboard in hand, while you lay on a couch in their office. More recently, holistic health practices have emerged to target and heal certain aspects of our lives, whether that be physical, mental, or spiritual. Quadra Island’s Sound Seed Yoga is a great example of a holistic health service offering a unique format for healing. Nada Yoga (Sound Yoga) regulates the nervous system using the vibrations of sound to release tension and recalibrate. Attending a group sound healing session is a beautiful way to connect with community members while contributing to the health of the collective; assisting each other in the pursuit of well-being. And isn’t that the definition of community—to share common interests, pursuits, and identities?

A healthy community

A healthy community is united in purpose. The purpose of emerging holistic health practices, like Healing Hands Osteopathy, is to find the root cause of pain, imbalance, and discomfort. Osteopathy focuses on the manual manipulation of the body, believing that the health of an individual depends on their bones, muscles, and connective tissue functioning together.

The health of a community also includes its connection to the environment. Plume Holistic Medi Spa is a West Coast-raised, Indigenous-owned, woman-run family business dedicated to treading softly on the land through holistic business practices. They offer self-care rituals for mind, body, and soul, such as laser light therapy, skin care treatments, body care treatments, and holistic spa treatments. They are devoted to the health of the community as a whole, including its natural environment and animals.

Reconnecting with ancient, traditional practices

A quick search of the definition of health would likely include mental and physical well-being. But what about the soul? Within the field of holistic health practices, we’re seeing an emerging trend of reconnecting with ancient, traditional practices and finding connection in religious or spiritual beliefs. On Quadra Island, Soul Sole uses foot pressure to deliver massage and bodywork. This ancient Ayurvedic technique of massage was developed by the Kalari Martial Artists of Kerala, South India, more than 2,000 years ago—practitioners use a rope suspended from above for balance and weight distribution.

The rise of holistic health practices is either well-timed or a result of the burden on our medical system. Walk-in clinics are closed, waitlists for procedures lengthen, and people struggle to find a family doctor. How are we supposed to receive the care we need? I can’t help but see the correlation between a lack of reliability and trust in industrial systems and the popularity of holistic health.

While the unfortunate current reality of holistic health services often involves an out-of-pocket cost, it’s worth checking with your healthcare provider to see which treatments they cover. The number of holistic services being covered is growing.

A community will not thrive lacking access to health services or a loss of faith in its systems. A healthy community is formed by the bonds of healthy individuals. Resilient, balanced, and flexible communities are needed to overcome the challenges our future generations face. These are qualities found in holistic health services.