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The Okanagan Charter

Prioritizing Optimal Health & Well-being at McMaster


To promote inclusive and equitable initiatives that enhance the health and well-being of students, staff and faculty across McMaster campuses and our community.

Read the official Okanagan Charter

Download the PDF

The purpose of the Charter is to provide guidance and inspiration by providing a framework to promote the importance of health and wellness on higher education institutions. Additionally, the Charter strives to create an open dialogue between institutions locally and globally, thus continuing the development of health and wellness in institutions and within communities.


Expandable List

The Charter has two Calls to Action for higher education institutions to follow:

  1. Embed health into all aspects of campus culture, across the administration, operations and academic mandates.
  2. Lead health promotion action and collaboration locally and globally.

Higher education plays a central role in all aspects of the development of individuals, communities, societies, and cultures- locally and globally.

Higher education has a unique opportunity to provide transformative education, engage the student voice, develop new knowledge and understanding, lead by example and advocate to decision-makers for the benefit of society. In the emergent knowledge society, higher education institutions are positioned to generate, share and implement knowledge and research findings to enhance health of citizens and communities both now and in the future.

A University or College is, by its very nature, an essential part of any systemic health promotion strategy, working collaboratively in trans-disciplinary and cross-sector ways. This Charter calls upon higher education institutions to incorporate health promotion values and principles into their mission, vision and strategic plans, and model and test approaches for the wider community and society.

From June 22-25 2015, researchers, practitioners, administrators, students and policy makers from 45 different countries engaged in the International Conference that resulted in the creation of the Okanagan Charter. The first draft of the Charter was written by 225 individuals through a pre-conference survey. The first draft was then refined by 380 delegates at the International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges, supported by a writing team for assistance. Delegates from higher education institutes, the World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) pledged to bring the official Okanagan Charter back to their settings to use it as a catalyst within their communities.

Through dissemination and use of the Charter in higher education, network building and future conferences, our hope is that health promotion will be advanced internationally.

Health promoting universities and colleges infuse health into everyday operations, business practices and academic mandates. By doing so, health promoting universities and colleges enhance the success of our institutions; create campus cultures of compassion, well-being, equity and social justice; improve the health of the people who live, learn, work, play and love on our campuses; and strengthen the ecological, social and economic sustainability of our communities and wider society.

McMaster & the Okanagan Charter

McMaster University (signed in 2017) is one of 23 Canadian Institutions who have signed the Okanagan Charter. As one of the earliest adopters and one of the first in Ontario, McMaster has committed to integrating health and well-being into all aspects of campus life. The Okanagan Charter provides an opportunity to further health and well-being and ultimately creating a Brighter World for all.

Under the direction of the McMaster Okanagan Committee (MOC), a standing committee representing university leadership, faculty, staff and students, McMaster is working on the first steps of integrating the charter on campus. By following these initiatives, the McMaster Okanagan Committee will enhance health & well-being on campus by creating this website which is a comprehensive real-time inventory of all health and well-being activities in a searchable format. This website is for all McMaster students, staff, faculty and community to easily locate anything related to health & well-being offered by the university to ultimately improve the overall well-being of campus and community.

  • Ensuring all stakeholders have a voice in the development of health & well-being programs on campus.
  • Allowing the charter to stimulate further health & well-being ideas, ultimately creating opportunities for health & well-being research collaborations.