Watch our short introductory video here:
Upstream is a movement to create a healthy society through evidence-based, people-centred ideas. Upstream seeks to reframe public discourse around addressing the social determinants of health in order to build a healthier society. Scroll down to learn more.
From the emergency room, to homeless shelters, to the prison system, we see the consequences of downstream thinking all around us. Upstream thinking means investing wisely for future success rather than spending all of our time and resources responding to and perpetuating failure.
If health for all is our goal, then upstream thinking is about addressing the things that have the greatest influence on our health, including income, employment, education, early childhood development, housing, nutrition and the wider environment.
What we do
Upstream works with the growing body of evidence on these social determinants of health and uses that knowledge to guide recommendations for change.
By sharing stories through a variety of media, Upstream seeks to creatively engage citizens, sparking within them a personal stake in the social determinants of health and a demand for upstream alternatives to the status quo.
Upstream uses this evidence and storytelling to foster a vibrant network of organizations and individuals who share this vision.
By demonstrating that a better way is possible, we can help create the conditions for wiser decisions and a healthier Canada.
People care about health. It’s a value we all share, transcending class, colour, and political ideology. This shared value of health, understood as full social, physical and mental wellbeing, and expanded to encompass not just the health of individuals but also the health of our communities and institutions, gives us a focus for our shared aspirations.
Despite the emphasis we place on health care, which continues to rank at the top of Canadians' concerns, health care actually isn't the biggest factor in determining our health. The social determinants of health — our income, education, social supports, housing, nutrition, the environment, and more — are what make the greatest difference in our health outcomes and life quality.
Addressing these determinants enables people to live longer, fuller and healthier lives. If we can build the political will to push for evidence-based, root-focused and forward-looking policy innovations, we can foster a common purpose that deepens community, builds solidarity, and rejuvenates democracy.
Helping others, helping ourselves
Giving everyone the opportunity to improve their circumstances, to escape poverty and experience the fullness of health, is not just the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do. Why? Because the evidence shows that our future well-being depends not on our selfishness but our generosity, our sense of justice, and our willingness to invest in all children, not just our own.
As Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett demonstrate in their groundbreaking book The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, everyone’s safety, prosperity, and satisfaction with society all suffer when inequality increases. Even the wealthiest people in an unequal society are less healthy than they would be in a more equal society. Life in a more egalitarian country, on the other hand, benefits the health of everyone, from the least advantaged to the most successful.
The implications of these findings are, frankly, revolutionary. Addressing the social determinants of health doesn’t just help those most in need; it helps everyone, from the poorest to the richest. Everyone benefits.
The vision of a truly healthy society offers us a shared goal with the power to reach across the differences that separate us. It allows us to connect with our neighbours in recognition of our common vulnerability and our common desire to live full and healthy lives. By systematically addressing the determinants of health, and continually tracking the effectiveness of our measures, we can do what is right and what is smart. We can improve the health of people and the health of the political system at the same time.
Who is Upstream?
Upstream is an independent, non-partisan organization incorporated as a non-profit with offices in Saskatoon and Toronto.
Hilary Gough is thrilled to be part of the Upstream team. Her passion for social justice began at an early age and she believes that working together is key to creating social change. Hilary credits her appreciation for, and skills in, community development to her experiences as a participant in the Next Up leadership program and as a board member with Saskatoon Cycles, among others.
Despite a love of new cities and friends, she couldn’t be happier to be back in Saskatoon where she lives with her partner Arlin. She keeps busy riding bikes, gardening and hanging out with her super-cute niblings. Hilary would love to hear your ideas for a healthy society and to know how you/your organization might like to get involved!
Jared Knoll serves enthusiastically as the Communications Coordinator for Upstream to translate evidence into impact through people-centred stories. He's trained in human rights, communications and politics with a professional background in journalism, and earned his MA in Media, Peace and Conflict Studies at the University for Peace.
Jared has recently returned to his prairie roots after working throughout Africa and Latin America for most of the past decade, and believes the spread of accurate, honest information can be a powerful vehicle for positive social impacts, justice and policy action.
Policy Coordinator: Cody Sharpe
Cody Sharpe is Upstream's Policy Coordinator. He is currently completing his PhD in public policy at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.
He has worked in program management positions for various non-profits as well as in government, taught at the university level, and helped found a community service learning organization which linked student researchers to non-profit agencies in Saskatchewan.
Outreach Coordinator: Joanna Jakubczyk
Joanna Jakubczyk is Upstream's Community & Partnerships Coordinator. She works to expand our efforts at engaging you, our Upstream community of supporters, and develops partnerships with like-minded organizations, funders and more.
Joanna earned her Master’s degree in Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan, and has worked with the Saskatchewan Population Health Evaluation Research Unit and the Saskatoon Health Region. Originally from Ottawa, Joanna is trained in Finance and Marketing and spends most of her spare time poring over books in local coffee shops.
Dave Oswald Mitchell
Lara Ellis (Board Chair)
You can contact Upstream at email@example.com
To learn more about the Upstream team, check out our “meet the team” album on our Facebook page.
Upstream acknowledges the generous support of the Dirk Seafoot Estate. Dirk served in the Royal Canadian Air Force for four years and upon his return to the Webb area of Saskatchewan was actively involved in farming for about 75 years. He was a keen observer of the world around him and enjoyed CBC radio, newspapers and periodicals as well as the Discovery and History Channels. Dirk was very self-sufficient and maintained a simple but active life, including hand painting the outside of his house and patching the shingles on his barn while in his 90's. His self-sufficiency was matched with a keen interest in social justice, and he was proud of Swift Current being the first location for socialized medicine in Canada.
Executors Mark Covell (nephew) and Steven Allen (married to niece Arlette Allen) share this vision of a healthy society for all.
We are also grateful for the generous support of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses and the Douglas Coldwell Foundation.
Help spread the word! Share Upstream with your networks here.