CMHA BC endorses Okanagan Charter in show of support for health promoting campuses

Posted on October 25th, 2017

Canadian campuses and stakeholders continue leading efforts to improve health and well-being of students, faculty, staff


A year after six Canadian campuses were the first to adopt the Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges (the Charter), four leading organizations—including the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA BC)—are endorsing it.

Next week, the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS), CMHA BC, Healthy Campus Alberta, and the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) will be the first to officially endorse the Charter, as a show of support, and to encourage their communities of practice to join the conversation.

Representatives from CACUSS, CMHA BC, and Healthy Campus Alberta will take part in a joint announcement endorsing the Charter at the Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health (CICMH) annual conference in Toronto, ON, on October 31, 2017, to mark the one-year anniversary of the initial signing.

“Community organizations play a key role in supporting, inspiring, influencing, and partnering with higher education institutions to strengthen the health and well-being of campus communities,” says Bev Gutray, CEO of CMHA BC. “And the Charter is a great mechanism to guide and mobilize that action together.”

The Charter was developed collaboratively in 2015 by participants from 45 different countries representing post-secondary institutions and organizations, such as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Pan American Health Organization.

Research shows that health and well-being are essential to learning, retention, productivity, satisfaction, and building a sense of community. Post-secondary institutions have a unique opportunity to promote well-being through education, research, policies, and practices, and the Charter provides a common framework to foster environments where all campus members can thrive.

With the endorsement, CMHA BC commits to: share in the vision of the Charter; support the implementation of the two Calls to Action; and inform and support these efforts by participating in local, regional, national, or international networks to implement the Charter.

Read CMHA BC’s Statement of Endorsement here.



The Charter was an outcome of the June 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna. A working group with members from the UK, Chile, Ecuador, Germany, United States and Canada used an intensive development process to engage people interested in higher education from 45 countries.

Higher education leaders and delegates signed a pledge to bring the Charter back to their settings to inspire and catalyze further action towards the creation of health promoting universities and colleges. The first signatories to make that commitment included: Memorial University, Mount Royal University, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge.

The Canadian Health Promoting Universities and Colleges Network was formed last year by these initial signatories, which has been working to encourage more post-secondary institutions to adopt the Charter. Since then, four more campuses have adopted the Charter: King’s College at Western University, McMaster University, the University of Saskatchewan, and Guelph University.

See related: “Three more Canadian campuses adopt the Charter” and “University of Guelph adopts the Charter

For more information on the Charter, please contact Tanya Miller, Healthy Minds | Healthy Campuses Provincial Coordinator.




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