CACUSS Board of Directors endorses Okanagan Charter in support of health promoting campuses

October 26, 2017

October 26, 2017 –

Canadian campuses and stakeholders continue leading efforts to improve health and well-being of students, faculty, staff.

A year after six Canadian campuses were the first to adopt the Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges (the Charter), four leading organizations including the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) have endorsed it. Next week the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA BC), Healthy Campus Alberta, and the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) will be the first to officially endorse the charter, as a show of support, and to encourage their communities of practice to join the conversation.

Representatives from CACUSS, CMHA BC, NIRSA, and Healthy Campus Alberta will take part in a joint announcement endorsing the Charter at the Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health (CICMH) annual conference in Toronto, ON, on October 31, 2017, to mark the one-year anniversary of the initial signing.

CACUSS has a long history of supporting research, sharing of best practices and innovation in campus mental health initiatives. Through our work with our communities of practice and member campuses, the Board of Directors prioritized “Health and Well-being” as a commitment in the 2017-2021 CACUSS Strategic Plan. In 2013 CACUSS released the “Post-Secondary Student Mental Health: Guide to a Systemic Approach” document in collaboration with CMHA-BC. In 2017 CACUSS released a follow-up Inventory tool for the Systemic Approach. CACUSS continues to partner with member institutions and other organizations to advance learning in campus health and well-being.

The Charter was developed collaboratively in 2015 by participants from 45 different countries representing post-secondary institutions and organizations, such as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Pan American Health Organization.

Research shows that health and well-being are essential to learning, retention, productivity, satisfaction, and building a sense of community. Post-secondary institutions have a unique opportunity to promote well-being through education, research, policies, and practices, and the Charter provides a common framework to foster environments where all campus members can thrive.

With the endorsement, CACUSS commits to: share in the vision of the Charter; support the implementation of the two Calls to Action; and inform and support these efforts (where resources allow) by participating in local, regional, national, or international networks to implement the Charter.


CACUSS Statement of Endorsement for Okanagan Charter



The Charter was an outcome of the June 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna. A working group with members from the UK, Chile, Ecuador, Germany, United States and Canada used an intensive development process to engage people interested in higher education from 45 countries.

Higher education leaders and delegates signed a pledge to bring the Charter back to their settings to inspire and catalyze further action towards the creation of health promoting universities and colleges. The first signatories to make that commitment included: Memorial University, Mount Royal University, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge.

A network to support Canadian Health Promoting Universities and Colleges Network was formed last year by these initial signatories, which has been working to encourage more post-secondary institutions to adopt the Charter. Since then, four more campuses have adopted the Charter: King’s College at Western University, McMaster University, the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of Guelph.


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