Building intersections for vibrant rural communities (Building Intersections 2018)


  • Katrina Plamondon 
    Interior Health
  • Jude Kornelsen 
    Centre for Rural Health Research / University of British Columbia
  • Amanda McDougall
    Interior Health
  • Kim Barnes 
    Interior Health


  • Katrina Plamondon 
    PhD candidate

Rural communities are both resilient and vulnerable to the complex challenges of accessing and navigating health services. Access to health services, health professional retention and recruitment, and health equity are of persistent concern for rural communities and the health systems that serve them (Smith et al, 2008; Pong et al. 2009; Kullig & Williams 2011; Wanless et al. 2010). Indigenous communities in particular, scattered across the vast rural and remote regions of British Columbia, cope with legacies of colonialism and structural and systemic violence (Kurtz et al., 2008; Czyzewski, 2011). Indigenous rural health research poses urgent and complex equity considerations. For example, research on the risks of violence and HIV among rural Aboriginal women in Canada underscored "the intersecting dynamics of gender, rural living, poverty, racism, and colonialism create risk for Aboriginal women provides a basis for developing policies that aim to strengthen the well-being of women, particularly their economic wellbeing." (Varcoe & Dick, 2008, p. 42).

Building Intersections 2018 is a bi-annual conference that provides a gathering place for inter-professional learning, networking, and partnership building. The conference features leading research and knowledge translation innovations and attracts provincial and national interest across a wide range of disciplines and sectors. The conference tries to create an interactive, participatory, and creative program that sparks partnerships and enables dialogue, learning, networking and exchange. This networking brings together the pentagram partners (researchers, health authorities, administrators, policy and decision makers, and providers) necessary to affect health service transformation (Green-Thompson, McInerney, Woollard, 2017).

The event is led by the Interior Health Research Department in partnership with the Rural Health Services Research Network of BC with further collaboration with Interior Health, other health authorities with a rural-remote geography, academic institutions, community organizations, and professional bodies. This conference will appeal to communities, academics and professionals, municipalities, civil society organizations, patients-as-partners and private organizations interested in cross-sector transdisciplinary intersections for rural health.

Integrating equity and cultural safety lenses to promote Indigenous health in BC’s southern interior

Interior Health (IH) serves more than 215,000 km² of BC’s southern interior. This part of BC falls within the traditional, unceded territories of the Secwepemc, Ktunaxa, Syilx, Nlaka’pamux, Ulkatcho, Tsilhqot’in and St’at’imc peoples. Within these territories are people, both on and off reserve, who live in small urban, rural or remote communities. The First Nations, Metis, and Inuit populations served by IH are disproportionately affected by health inequities. 

IH’s Aboriginal Health team is currently exploring ways in which health equity and cultural safety can be more systematically integrated into IH’s operational processes, program planning, and policy arenas. Dr. Shahram will focus on creating a policy proposal for broad integration of health equity impact assessments into the cultural fabric of IH — making culturally safe, equity-centred thinking the norm for leadership and practice. 

Dr. Shahram will bring her health research expertise and engaged scholarship methodologies (e.g. action research, integrated knowledge translation), and work with IH leadership to create a strategic plan for capacity building and policy change that will enable the advancement of a system-wide policy agenda aimed at integrating cultural safety and health equity assessment into IH policy and operations.

Dr. Shahram received a 2016 Research Trainee Award to examine how health equity strategies in the BC public health system could benefit from Indigenous knowledge and worldviews. This award will placed on hold during her health policy fellowship assignment.