• Photograph by Closing the Gap

A holiday message from the Executive Director

Happy Holidays.

The holiday season really is an amazing time of year.  It provides many of us time to reflect on the year past and plan for the year ahead, and reminds all of us that we have an obligation to help our communities and the people who need it most.

That said, I wanted to introduce myself personally as the new Executive Director of Upstream and to deliver an important message about the work we have planned for 2018.

Recently, I was the subject of some media attention.  You most likely noticed the story in news, on  TV, or online.  The coverage focused on my support for the positive direction the federal government was taking to help reform our outdated tax laws in an effort to level the playing field for everyone — a position in contrast to physician associations across the country.

As I said live on CBC’s Power and Politics, I believe with all my heart, and as a doctor, that the best way to help heal an unhealthy society is to fix those problems at their source — I believe in the social determinants of health.  This philosophical and scientifically proven concept is also at the heart of Upstream and everything we do as an organization.

Upstream was designed and built to help bring attention to and help solve the problems within our society that are causing unhealthy outcomes for millions of people, in particular, those who are most vulnerable and marginalized.

However, to be of actual benefit to those we are seeking to help, we must first be willing to lead by example. This takes courage and some personal sacrifice, but it is also the leadership we must provide if our work is going to be taken seriously.

As the Executive Director, I have set 5 priorities for us achieve in 2018 so that we can build the capacity Upstream requires to achieve our broader mission and vision of a healthier society for all.

First, we must strengthen the knowledge of our supporters, the public, and policy makers in understanding the social determinants of health. That means actively engaging policy influencers and our politicians on a regular basis.

Second, as we have in the past, we will organize a conference bringing the brightest and most active minds together that will help shape policy, generate support and provide resources for Upstream; focusing in particular on current issues like: reconciliation, racism, income inequality and health.

Third, coming out of the conference and building off the momentum generated, we plan to launch new research and campaign initiatives that focus on these specific policy areas, allowing for our partners to take an active role connecting these dots:

  • The benefits of a living wage & health
  • Food security & health
  • Housing & health
  • Pharmacare

Fourth, we must establish partnerships where our role is knowledge translation and mobilisation; to grow our audience and increase our brand and impact at a truly national scale.

Fifth and finally, we’ll incorporate reconciliation with Indigenous peoples into our organizational work both internally and externally, where and how we can have the most success through our expertise.

I am determined to grow Upstream. The five point strategy I just laid out will build our organization and make us more effective at changing the health outcomes of real people in communities across our country.

I need people like you to believe as strongly as I do in this work so that we can develop the capacity to fulfill each of these priorities over the next 12 months.

One piece of this puzzle is our need to hire a policy and research expert to help with outreach in January.  However, I can't make this strategic move without some help from our supporters like you to increase our organizational budget.

Here is the link to our donation page, to give online today and help us continue to take the mainstream, upstream.

I won't assume your generosity, or your ability to give. I will say that we don't ask very often and when we do it’s because we need your financial help. I hope you can dig deep for Upstream this year.

Together, with your help, we’ll produce positive impacts on the persons who need our help the most. After all, we must secure the health and wealth of organization first if we are going to be able to do the same for others.

Thanks for taking some time to get to know me.

I sincerely hope this blog leaves you with the impression that I’m determined to succeed, because I am. Lives do depend on our work, and that’s something I take seriously.

From all of us at Upstream, I wish you and your family and loved ones a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.

Again, many thanks. We hope to hear from you soon.

Warmest regards,


Dr. Monika Dutt

P.S. All of our year-end donors to Upstream will receive a handwritten thank you note from yours truly and a chance to win a copy of Upstream Medicine, a brand new book that Upstream co-released earlier this year.

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