The WOW seminar on immigrant women’s nutrition and health was a step in the right direction towards closing the gap between academic researchers and service providers.

Josephine Etowa
Associate Professor, School of Nursing, University of Ottawa
All the WOW events that I went to were great – WOW does give a sense of a community trying to improve its attraction and retention!

Caroline Andrew
Professor, University of Ottawa
The Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre is so happy to have joined the OLIP Health and Wellbeing Sector Table. It is clear that OLIP cares about immigrants and refugees and…

Wendy Tang, Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre
I was happy to see integration to Algonquin territory and indigenous culture related programming in 2014 WOW. Please continue to involve local Aboriginal organisations and…

Linda Manning
WOW 2014 participant, Senior Fellow, University of Ottawa
We are very pleased to have done the “Opportunity Cost of Not Investing in Interpretation” report – it is so important to have clarity on these challenges and…

Hindia Mohamoud, Director, OLIP
I’m really impressed with the level of energy and commitment around the Health and Wellbeing table and look forward to continuing collaboration between OLIP and OPH.

Marcela Tapia
Ottawa Public Health
The OLIP Council is committed to leadership.  In only a few years, we have a common vision and priorities, and are up to the task of implementing the Ottawa Immigration Strategy.

Salimatou Diallo
OLIP Council Vice Chair, Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario
Welcoming Ottawa Week is wonderful platform to demonstrate our city’s longstanding openness to immigration and commitment to supporting newcomers’ successful integration. …

Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa
In our city’s history, immigrants have always played an important role. They build our economic prosperity, diversify our culture, contribute to our social vitality.

Jim Watson
Mayor of Ottawa
Canada has been shaped by people who came from all over the world to build this country. Welcoming Ottawa Week offers a platform for Ottawa residents to celebrate both this…

Alex Munter, Chair of the OLIP Council and President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre

Healthy Women – Healthy Communities

August 28, 2012 How to Replicate

Subject of Analysis

Community Based Action Research, Community Engagement, Immigrant Health, Lay Health Promotion


Alma Estable, Mechthild Meyer, Sara Torres

Mujer Sana- Comunidad Sana: Healthy Women – Healthy Communities is a community-based health promotion and action research initiative to improve women’s health

Minority communities continue to benefit from volunteer lay/community health workers who facilitate access to health information and health services. Mujer Sana – Comunidad Sana/Healthy Women – Healthy Communities recognized the importance of this work by providing accredited training and paid positions for lay health workers. We implemented a comprehensive model, combining  lay health promotion, participatory action research, and community capacity-building to improve cancer screening practices among Spanish-speaking women in Ottawa. The 2 1/2-year demonstration project  (2001-03) was funded by the Ontario Women’s Health Council. It was carried out in partnership with: the Latin American Support Organization (LAZO); Centretown Community Health Centre (CCHC); Gentium Consulting; Community Health Research Unit (CHRU); and the University of Ottawa. An involved community advisory committee with more than 40 active members (settlement, ethnocultural groups, Ottawa Public Health, Cancer Care Ontario, health service organizations, women’s organizations, universities, colleges) provided guidance and capacity building to promote the project and lower access barriers.

Project Goals

  • Test an innovative, participatory model to improve access to cancer information, screening and preventive health care for ethnoracial minority women, starting with one ethnic minority community (Hispanic) in one urban area (Ottawa).
  • Increase the involvement of Hispanic women in their own preventive health care.
  • Increase the capacity of service organizations to provide cancer screening for ethnoracial minority women.


  • The project reached one third of Spanish-speaking women in Ottawa with health promotion and educational activities and increased women’s knowledge and motivation to seek preventative cancer screening. Health and other service organizations involved in the project continued to recognize the importance of addressing access barriers.
  • The model was widely disseminated through a highly accessible website, community presentation, and numerous conference presentations and publications (in academic journals, a book chapter and public media).
  • The model was used also as a case study for the University of Ottawa and the Ontario Ministry of Health “Multiple Interventions Framework” Tool Kit (
  • Spin-offs: A group of committed leaders continue to seek funding to further promote the model and support lay/community health workers:
    • We are advocating for the recognition of community health workers, which has led to a proposal currently in front of the Canadian Public Health Association (policy table).
    • As a result of submitting a research proposal to the Association of Community Health Centres and Aboriginal Health Access Centres, the issue of lay/community health workers was selected as one of their top research priorities.