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First 3M Health Leadership Award Recipient: Joyce Rock

Having recently returned to her home city of Montreal, Joyce spent the previous 13 years working in a variety of roles in Vancouver BC’s Downtown Eastside, the last of which was as Executive Director of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House (DTES NH) from 2005 – July of 2011 where her leadership has been making a difference in the community. 

The DTES NH is a nexus for community inspired engagement and programming that not only addresses the needs of the community, but fosters belonging and ownership within all of its programming. Described as a ‘lifelong community leader’ Joyce educates for change by living out a social justice philosophy and modelling for others how to integrate these values in day-to-day activism and advocacy. Joyce throws a new light on entrenched socioeconomic marginalization.

Together, Joyce and DTES NH bring out the best in the community – treating all as rife with capacity and inherently deserving.  While residents have space where they feel respected, Joyce’s work directly confronts the stigmatization and inequities that low-income DTES residents face. In 2009 Joyce co-founded the DTES Kitchen Tables Project with Heather O’Hara of the Potluck Café Society, a DTES social enterprise. Joyce continues to work as co-leader of the Project, the goal of which is to reform the quality, nutritional impact, abundance and delivery of food across the DTES in consultation with residents, community food providers, non-food providing community organizations, healthcare workers, policy makers, growers/suppliers, food/beverage industry professionals and researchers.

It also creates jobs within a Community Economic Development model geared to low-income people facing barriers to traditional employment. The DTES Kitchen Tables Project is a grassroots expression of the Right to Food philosophy. This means the Human Right of Downtown Eastside residents to secure water and abundant, local, fresh and nutritious food, available across the DTES and delivered in a dignified manner. The transferability of the DTES Kitchen Tables Project’s 7 Food Solutions has already drawn the interest of many communities across the country, from New Westminster BC to Winnipeg MB and Moncton NB.

“Taking leadership roles in programming, advocacy, and research, Joyce leads under a model of collaboration, never taking credit for her extraordinary success in bringing people together around common goals.” 

“Joyce has become a key ambassador for the social determinants of health and an agent for community transformation in Vancouver.”

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