Community Based Wellness

Community Based Wellness

Victoria Health Co-op

 By Vanessa Hammond

To our neighbours in James Bay - Do you ever visit one of the many wellness practitioners at the Co-op Health Centre in the James Bay Community Project building? Or have taken your child to the psychologist Kelly for an assessment? Or have you been referred to pharmacist Troy for a medication review? Or are you a patient of one of our medical (MSP) doctors?

Sharing Good News – We are very grateful to the James Bay residents who have made generous donations in the past few weeks. Thank you. You have helped us to meet our fixed expenses. We are very proud that, with your help, the Health Co-op has been able to maintain services despite the lack of Family Physicians (throughout Victoria) and therefore the lack of revenue. 

And we have more good news. We are delighted to welcome Michelle Wong, who expects to be fully qualified within a few months. She has moved from Alberta and is with us two days per week. 

In October we welcomed a group of Health Directors from the Matawa Nation in northern Ontario for whom we had organized visits to health co-ops and First Nations health organizations on Vancouver Island. Special thanks to all who joined our reception on Sunday Oct 1.

Supporting Community Based Wellness and Medical Care - We definitely need to bring in a Nurse Practitioner and an RN so that we can absorb the patients of doctors who have retired or moved and then, our sincere hope, even take new patients next year. Can you help us with this? We need help in preparing many more funding applications. We have delivered letters to our provincial MLAs, submitted applications to the Ministry of Health and several funding organizations, and need to do more. Can you help?

We need to run a fundraising campaign. We need a social media presence. Could you help with either of these? If so, I would be delighted to hear from you. I also need to admit that I think I have lost two phone messages from the past month – we actually need someone to help our volunteer board to keep on top of the workload! Could you help? And if you have called me, and I have not responded please forgive me and call again.

And we need a Treasurer who has CPA or CGA certification. Our long-serving treasurer needs to cut his hours, and he will be happy to introduce his system to a new volunteer.

We need support for the Creating Community Wellness Society. Can you offer a little (or more) financial support to help meet the shortfall due to the severe shortage of MDs in B.C.?

Or can you offer an hour a month as a volunteer - training provided, nice colleagues.

Answering your questions We are often asked, “When will you take more patients, why do you not have more doctors, why are other practitioners not covered by MSP, why are you not open evenings and weekends, how do I join the Co-op, how can I support the Co-op, what is a health co-op, how can I help?” Many of the answers are on the notice boards and flyers at the Co-op Health Centre. Many will be answered on our new website. We are planning an info session as soon as our new door is installed – watch the notice board at the CHC and in our local coffee shops. We welcome such questions by phone or email and try to reply as quickly as possible. And here are some answers:

The Victoria Health Co-op has 607 members and serves over 7,000 MSP patients. We would like the numbers to be much closer. We would like you to join the Co-op. 

Lifetime membership is $50. If that would be a hardship, we are happy to have you purchase your membership share in instalments that fit your budget or some other alternative. Several members make this $50 a regular contribution. Membership also gives you a voice, lets you tell us your priorities and help us to represent you well when we speak to government and funders. As a member you receive updates on our activities – you are well informed about our plans and activities. One thing membership does not give you is automatic access to an MSP practitioner. However, it does give us, the Board, the incentive to keep fighting for added resources. Still unsure about joining? Let’s talk.

The Co-op’s Wellness Practitioners offer kinesiology, cranio-sacral massage, energy work, osteopathy, herbal therapy and many other health modalities. At the Monthly Members Wellness Clinics, next one November 26, members can receive a treatment on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis. The list of wonderful wellness experts who are donating their services on November 26 will be emailed to all members around Nov 7 and posted at the Co-op Health Centre. Please book your appointment in advance. After the session, you pay whatever you can afford. The money is held in the Health Access Fund. Members who need the support of Co-op’s natural health care practitioners but can’t afford their regular fees can apply to the Fund. Everyone benefits.

Our November Person of the Month is Nicole Costello, owner of Centerline Reflexology. Nicole began her training in Toronto at the Canadian Academy of Reflexology (1993). She also trained with teachers from Singapore, China and the Philippines and has since developed her own style of reflexology, which integrates Eastern and Western techniques. 

Reflexology is a system of massage used to relieve tension and treat illness, based on the theory that there are reflex points on the feet, hands, and head linked to every part of the body. Clientele with: swollen feet, sore backs, plantar fasciitis, diabetes, post-stroke, post-surgery, anxiety, stress and arthritis (to name a few), have all benefited from the reduction of pain, the engagement of the nervous system and the increase of circulation that reflexology offers.

Nicole contributes generously to the work of the Victoria Health Co-op as a member of our Board of Directors, also a Board member of the Creating Community Wellness Society, the society that supports the Health Co-op so that it can continue to serve our 7,400 patients.

Nicole volunteers monthly at the Health Co-op’s Members Wellness Clinics (next Clinic Nov 26). Through these organizations and activities, Nicole lives out her passion for health access and preventative care and meeting our communities for overall health and well-being.

Nicole can be reached at 778-433-3119, or 250-858-8307.

Past “Persons of the Months” have been Rae Bilash, (250) 380-8733, who uses the gentle, enjoyable, relaxing Trager® Approach to improve movement and mobility while releasing muscular tension that has accumulated over the years in your body and Lindsay Hounslow – Registered Herbal Therapist at or 250-891-5467.

If you have ideas or questions about the Victoria Health Co-op, or our Co-op Health Centre please contact VHC Chair, Vanessa Hammond at or 250.415.9272.


Delroy trumpet player Quentin Verhaegen.jpg

James Bay Residents of Powell Street                                                                                     Delray trumpet player                                                                                                                Sketch by Quentin Verhaegen



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