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Picture of Justin Chen standing in front of trees and mountain scenery.

Justin Chen

Beedie School of Business › Human Resource Management | Beedie School of Business › Operations Management | Health Sciences › Health Care Systems | Arts + Social Sciences › Labour Studies
Co-operative Education › Local Co-op

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A collage of three pictures - one of a kayaker on the water on the right, a portrait of Justin in the middle, and a desk overlooking a mountain on the right.
Pictured above: Kayaking during the June 30x30 physical activity challenge (left), working remotely from home (center), the First Nations Health Authority office view in West Vancouver (right).
Credit
Courtesy of Justin Chen.
Although most of my co-op experience was acquired through an online medium, I felt very engaged to maintain my health and wellness.

I acknowledge that I performed my co-op work on the unceded and ancestral territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations.

During my time as a Human Resources Co-op Student at the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), I worked in the Learning and Talent Management portfolio. In my role, I worked closely with the Recruitment Services team, as well as the Learning & Development team. 

The First Nations Health Authority's (FNHA) community-based services are largely focused on health promotion and disease prevention. As the first and only provincial First Nations Health Authority in Canada, the organization collaborates, coordinates, and integrates respective health programs and services to achieve better health outcomes for BC First Nations. 

In this article, I will discuss how the FNHA’s big cultural emphasis on health and wellness played a big role in helping me understand health and wellness at the company, team, and personal levels.

Daily Physical Activity Challenge during Remote Work

Especially during remote work, I think it is important to understand the role that the organization plays in promoting health and wellness. In June, FNHA employees were encouraged to perform 30 minutes of daily physical activity for 30 days through a campaign called the “June 30x30 challenge.” During this period, I stayed physically engaged through activities such as hiking, tennis, biking, kayaking, and paddleboarding. I kept a log of the type of activities I performed each day, and submitted it to have a chance to win prizes. 

Although most of my co-op experience was acquired through an online medium, I felt very engaged to maintain my health and wellness. For example, I would finish a hike on the weekend and be talking about it with my co-workers during our meetings. They would then recommend to me some new places that they love to go hiking. I found that it gave me a reason to experience new activities through the organization’s health promotion tactics. In turn, this also improved my energy and satisfaction levels at work.

Starting My Monday Off in Good Spirits

Every Monday morning, I look forward to the Coast Salish Anthem. The FNHA invites an elder to pray for our leadership, colleagues and community members during this time. We also have the opportunity to meet and welcome new FNHA employees. It was awesome that employees got a chance to virtually meet with other employees to start the week off in a good way. In addition to this, I think that the organization’s Mindful Monday sessions helped improve my mental clarity and concentration for the rest of the week. During Mindful Mondays, speakers were invited to talk about topics such as cultural awareness and traditional Indigenous health. Needless to say, I learned a lot about Indigenous culture and practices throughout my time with the FNHA. 

Fostering a Culture of Health and Wellness within My Team

In our weekly team meetings, my team always started our meetings with “wellness check-ins,” which I think helps to set the tone for wellness on the team level. During the wellness check-ins, we were encouraged to talk and share about everything and anything that was related to health and wellness. Personally, I often talked about what fun activities I did over the weekend and shared my wellness goal for the week. I think that doing wellness check-ins helped me form a stronger social bond with my team, which in turn allowed me to work more effectively and empathetically with them. 

At the same time, I think that sharing my wellness goal helped me to establish accountability for my personal wellness plans. For example, if I told my team that my wellness goal was to take more stretch breaks, I felt that I would be more likely to take action because I would have to provide my team with updates the following week on my wellness progress. As part of FNHA’s holistic approach to wellness, it was always good to reflect on what health and wellness goals I managed to achieve or not achieve. 

How Does a Culture of Health & Wellness Affect Me?

At the end of my co-op term, I found myself being more aware of how I engage in activities that promote wellness at home and at work. It was good to see how organizational-level health promotion was applied in a physical activity campaign and through weekly morning prayers. Not only did I feel physically and mentally healthier, but I also gained a lot of perspective on Indigenous teachings. 

Top organizations such as the FNHA engage, retain, and support their employees' health and well-being through a holistic wellness culture. Even in a remote environment, I felt that I had formed a strong support network with my co-workers. For example, my team was always available to chat when I needed help, or even when I just wanted to socialize. As a Health Sciences and Business student, this co-op allowed me to understand how a healthy organizational culture can truly have profound effects on employees’ work-life balance, job satisfaction, and job productivity. 

Please visit the SFU Health Sciences Instagram FHS Co-op highlights to take a further look into Justin’s co-op experience at the First Nations Health Authority! 

Beyond the Blog

  • The First Nations Health Authority is actively hiring for a wide-variety of positions. Check out FNHA job opportunities at www.fnha.ca/about/work-with-us.

Author

Picture of Justin Chen standing in front of trees and mountain scenery.

Justin Chen

Beedie School of Business › Human Resource Management | Beedie School of Business › Operations Management | Health Sciences › Health Care Systems | Arts + Social Sciences › Labour Studies
Co-operative Education › Local Co-op

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