Gabriola Island shines as a leader in Rural Health Programing

Press Release

Wednesday, March 18 2020

Brenda Fowler, Canadian 2020 Rural Health Champion.  Sounder File photo


Dr. Gabe Woollam – President-Elect of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC) is pleased to announce Brenda Fowler of Gabriola Island has been selected as the Canadian 2020 Rural Health Champion Award recipient.  

“The Rural Health Champion Award is a new award this year and will be presented annually to a non-physician who has had a significant impact on rural health care delivery, either through clinical care or system level impact in a community, province, or nationally.”  explains Dr. Woollam. 

Brenda Fowler, has been involved in community health for a number of years on Gabriola. In 2009 when the community clinic on Church street was still a dream, Brenda began to volunteer with the Gabriola Health Care Foundation first as a Board member and later as President.  

Brenda led the team of over 80 volunteers involved in finding the land, raising the money, and getting the Official Plan changed to accommodate the new clinic. She stepped away from the Foundation after her daughter Kelly died in 2011.  

Brenda later joined Gabriola’s People for a Healthy Community Society (PHC) as the Executive Director, in 2012.  PHC is Gabriola’s only social service not for profit. Programs support residents; reducing social isolation, improving food security and supporting early academic success (via healthy food). PHC has also partnered several times with the BC Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice Gabriola Island Chapter on improving health and wellness for seniors, promoting mental health programs with the CMHA and the University of Victoria Centre for Aging. More recently, in 2019,  PHC coordinated the training of 22 local residents to become community health care workers; improving the lives of individuals, caregivers and family members on Gabriola for years to come.

As a founding member of the Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative started in 2014, Brenda helped to bring over 25 other organizations together to support and complement each others mandates. Brenda has seen the collaborative become a proactive forum for community health issues to be addressed. Improvements in mental health, physical activity, hospice, seniors programing and children and youth have all occurred as a result of the Collaboratives’ work 

When summarizing her past eleven years of service, Brenda, observes, “It is an honour to work at the intersection of public health and primary care systems. I have been very fortunate to work with progressive organizations and on several significant projects which will have lasting impact in our community,” 

Congratulations to Brenda and to all Gabriolans who are actively improving their health and wellness of our community.