Editor’s note

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In the spirit of spring, this issue of Network “plants a seed” for our next special issue on women’s health and the environment with an introductory article on climate change and its impacts on women’s health. We have also included information about the growing movement to involve more women in decision making around climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Women’s health and the environment is one of two primary focus areas at the Canadian Women’s Health Network this year. The other is mental health as we continue to work as part of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Women, Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction established by the CWHN in 2006. The Group is working to ensure that sex- and gender-based analysis (SGBA) is included as the newly formed federal Mental Health Commission begins to implement recommendations from the Senate report Out of the Shadows at Last. Following a focus on mental health in recent issues of Network, this issue doesn’t address the topic; instead, it reflects the diversity of other women’s health issues that have come to our attention lately, either through the work of the Centres of Excellence for Women’s Health or other CWHN partners.
This includes a summary of the research from Women and Health Protection (WHP) on women’s use of the highly prescribed cholesterol-lowering class of drugs called statins. Also from WHP, we have a follow-up on the Charter challenge on direct-to-consumer advertising, which will be in the Ontario Superior Court this June.

A commentary from CWHN provides an update on the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine one year after the federal government announced its contribution of $300 million toward a mass vaccination program in Canada. An article from the Fédération du Québec pour le planning des naissances looks at the HPV vaccine specifically in Quebec and the joint call for a moratorium on the vaccine in that province.

Researchers at the Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence write about how the long shadow of history continues to affect access to health care for First Nations and Métis women in the Prairies. And a summary of the Cherchez la femme workshop by one of the event’s speakers examines the challenges faced by women in minority francophone communities in their roles as health-care consumers, workers and volunteers.

In a glowing tribute to American health activist Barbara Seaman, who died at the end of February, three Canadian women’s health advocates describe some of Seaman’s groundbreaking and inspiring work, which undoubtedly saved thousands of women’s lives, and the legacy she has left for the women’s health movement throughout North America. 

We take a look at the issues facing women immigrants and refugees with HIV/AIDS in Canada by profiling three community-based projects in Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa. And Fern Charlie, a peer interviewer for the Vancouver Area Drug Users women’s group shares her experiences as part of the project Women CARE in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Finally, before presenting our regular section of Recommended Readings, we’ve included an excerpt from the book Highs & Lows: Canadian Perspectives on Women and Substance Use and an interview with one of the editors, Nancy Poole, from the BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health.
As this was my first issue as editor of Network (replacing Kathleen O’Grady who is on maternity leave), I relied heavily on members of CWHN staff and the Expert Review and Advisory Committee who provided feedback on the articles during the editing and review process. Thank you all. Special thanks to Susan White, Assistant Executive Director, whose analysis and eye for detail have been invaluable.  

Your input is always welcome. You are also welcome to join us at the Canadian Women’s Health Network by submitting article ideas, serving on a committee or sending your women’s health resources to be included in the CWHN on-line database. To stay up-to-date on CWHN activities and women’s health topics, bookmark our website (www.cwhn.ca), visit our MySpace and Facebook pages, join our listserv and subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter, Brigit’s Notes. In the meantime, relish the warming days of spring and even the dog days of summer. Winter will be back before we know it.

Ellen Reynolds
Director of Communications