We are so excited about our new health project with literacy groups in Quebec! With the support of the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, we will be working in partnership with the Centre de documentation en education aux adultes et à la condition feminine (CDEACF), an innovative resource centre for literacy and women’s groups, to develop an empowering health program for adult learners to identify how their communities support the health of their members as well as what needs to be improved so their health is better supported.

This project has come from years of reflection at Breast Cancer Action Quebec about the dominant approach to prevention: an individual, culpabilizing and neo-liberal perspective that puts the responsibility on the individual to lead an exemplary lifestyle in order to reduce their risk of disease. Instead, we start with the idea that individuals cannot live healthy lives if their communities do not support the health of their members. We see the problem as societal. People who live in food desserts or cannot afford healthy food, who do not have access to safe green spaces for walking or who live in contaminated housing or downwind from toxic industrial sites face far greater obstacles to good health than people who have access to these most basic elements of healthy living.

Our goal is to listen to participants in literacy groups about how they see their communities either supporting or not their health. Together we will work to develop an action plan on how to make the necessary changes in their community that the group can then carry out. 

Our analysis has many sources including our previous work with marginalized communities on toxic education and action (also funded by the Catherine Donnelly Foundation), our Youth Program where we asked young people from marginalized communities to identify all the elements that go into, as well as the obstacles to, good health (they were so smart!), all the innovative work being done on environmental racism as well as the work of the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners new Prevention Plan for California. They too are looking to upend the individual model of breast cancer prevention and we have been following their work closely. Their new plan has been released and you can read it here.