May 26, 2023
Planet Youth has been invited to travel along with the President of Iceland, H.E. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, and the First Lady Eliza Jean Reid, on a state visit to Canada starting Monday, May 29th, 2023. The President of Iceland has brought the issue of public health to the forefront of his presidency. He has shown the importance of a healthy lifestyle and prevention by his own example, being an enthusiastic amateur runner and an active parent. Through the initiative of Prevention Day and the National Public Health Awards, the President has raised this important issue with Icelanders.
The President of Iceland, along with Heather Jeffrey, President of the Public Health Agency of Canada (TBC), will open an event called The Roundtable on Youth Health and Well-Being, which takes place at the Global Center for Pluralism in Ottawa on May 29th. The event is being organized in close collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada, and it will be graced by the presence of the Governor General, Hon. Mary Simon, who will honor the meeting.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada at the Public Health Agency of Canada, will moderate the event, overseeing a panel discussion where the CEO of Planet Youth, Pall Rikhardsson, will answer questions on the Planet Youth prevention method and the initiatives around the world. He will be accompanied by Planet Youth’s partners in Canada: Mr. David Somppi, Chair of the Planet Youth Lanark County Steering Committee; Joanne Pinnow, Director of Akak’stiman, United Way Calgary and Area (Planet Youth Calgary); and Melanie Cormier, Senior Program Advisor at Public Health New Brunswick (Planet Youth / Planète Jeunesse New Brunswick). The Planet Youth partners will shed further light on the Planet Youth method being implemented in different contexts in various regions of Canada, from the rural area of Lanark to the indigenous parallel approach being undertaken in Calgary, along with the traditional approach and the provincial partnership Planet Youth has in New Brunswick.
Health authorities in Canada have been aware of the work done by Planet Youth and the novelty of the Icelandic Prevention Model for some time. The method was discussed among others in the annual report written by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada in 2018. Communication channels have been open between Planet Youth and authorities regarding possible future cooperation in substance use prevention among youth, and the visit will serve as a good opportunity to exchange knowledge and discuss further cooperation. The closing remarks will be made by The Honorable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, along with Jon Sigfusson, Chairman of Planet Youth.
The event in Ottawa will be followed up by a visit to Halifax, NS on May 30th, where the First Lady Eliza Jean Reid, along with Planet Youth Chief Analytics and Advisory Officer Dr. Ingibjörg Eva Þórisdóttir, will join leading stakeholders from Nova Scotia’s health services sector to share insights on common challenges and innovative approaches to improving youth health, ensuring their mental well-being, and preventing addictions.