Canadians living in rural communities are diverse, with individual communities defined by unique strengths and challenges that impact their health needs. Understanding rural health needs is a complex undertaking, with many challenges pertaining to engagement, research, and policy development. In order to address these challenges, it is imperative to understand the unique characteristics of rural communities as well as to ensure that the voices of rural and remote communities are prioritized in the development and implementation of rural health research programs and policy. Effective community engagement is essential in order to establish rural-normative programs and policies to improve the health of individuals living in rural, remote, and northern communities.
This report was informed by a community engagement workshop held in Golden Lake, Ontario in October 2019. Workshop attendees were comprised of residents from communities within the Madawaska Valley, community health care professionals, students and researchers from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and international researchers from Australia, Sweden, and Austria. The themes identified throughout the workshop included community strengths and initiatives that are working well, challenges and concerns faced by the community in the context of health, and suggestions to build on strengths and address challenges to improve the health of residents in the Madawaska Valley.