One year after six Canadian campuses were the first to adopt the Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges, four leading organizations—including NIRSA—have recently endorsed the Charter in a show of support and to encourage their stakeholders to follow suit.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the Okanagan Charter’s first signatories, Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS), Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA BC), Healthy Campus Alberta, and NIRSA have all recently endorsed the Okanagan Charter. Today, representatives from CICMH, CMHA BC, and CACUSS were on hand at the CICMH Annual Conference in Toronto to mark the one-year anniversary of the first wave of Canadian campuses endorsing the Charter.

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

About the Okanagan Charter

The Okanagan 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 Okanagan 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 was formed last year by these initial signatories, which has been working to encourage more post-secondary institutions to adopt the Okanagan Charter. Since then, four more campuses have adopted the Okanagan Charter: King’s College at Western University, McMaster University, the University of Saskatchewan, and Guelph University.

A panel of leaders working in the field of campus recreation and wellness at Canadian campuses also presented a special 90-minute session about the Okanagan Charter during the 2017 NIRSA Annual Conference. NIRSA looks forward to working with member campuses across North America to encourage even more support in the future.

  • For more information, contact NIRSA Assistant to the Executive Director, Rebecca Reeves.



Rebecca Reeves is currently the NIRSA Assistant to the Executive Director. Gabriella Scali is currently the Content and Engagement Strategist, Wellbeing at University of British Columbia.