Celebrating Black History and Futures Month

About Black History and Futures Month

February is Black History and Futures Month – an important time to celebrate the transformative work and achievements of Black Canadians while also recognizing their struggles and sacrifices due to systemic discrimination. It is also a time to celebrate Black joy and dream about what the future may hold for Black people and their communities.

This year’s theme is inspired by ‘Unity’ – a painting by up-and-coming Black artist Madison Cook whose work incorporates themes of identity and representation specific to the Black community. Like Madison’s artwork, Women’s College Hospital strives to build a community united in its vision for a healthier, more equitable world. With equity at our core, we endeavour to learn about and share Black histories and activism that are often erased in dominant narratives in order to challenge oppressive power structures that continue to exist today.

Throughout Black History and Futures Month, our Office of Equity has organized several initiatives to showcase the achievements of Black community members both within our organization and beyond, as well as to provide the tools and resources to address anti-Black racism. Today, and every day, we must reaffirm our continual commitment to moving forward, having those difficult conversations and creating positive and lasting change. 

Our Black History and Futures Month web hub will be updated regularly – keep up with all our incredible programming through Connect and by visiting often.

Our Next Event:

Traditional Treats at WCH!
Enjoy traditional treats, information sharing and music!
When: Wednesday, February 8 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Peter Gilgan Atrium

Limited-Edition T-Shirts for Sale!

The limited-edition ‘Unity T-Shirt’ will be available every Wednesday and Thursday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Peter Gilgan Atrium for $20 (cash only). Proceeds will be donated to a community non-profit.

Upcoming Events

Weekly Atrium Booth
Join us weekly to snag t-shirts, notebooks, pins, informational pamphlets and more! The booth with feature artwork by up-and-coming Black artist, Madison Cook.
When: Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Peter Gilgan Atrium

The limited-edition ‘Unity T-Shirt’ will be available every Wednesday and Thursday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Peter Gilgan Atrium for $20 (cash only). Proceeds will be donated to a community non-profit.

Black History & Futures Month Launch with Live Steelpan Player
Kick off our Black History and Futures Month celebration with our live steelpan player, Steel Drum Hu!
When:
Wednesday, February 1 from 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Where: Peter Gilgan Atrium

Traditional Treats at WCH!
Enjoy traditional treats, information sharing and music!
When: Wednesday, February 8 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Peter Gilgan Atrium

Lunch and Learn: The Black Headache Study – It’s Not Just a Migraine!
Join Dr. Suvendrini Lena and expert panelists for a lunch and learn to discuss headaches and their disproportionate effect on Black communities.
When: Wednesday, February 15 from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Click to Register

Best Health for Black Women
A virtual conversation about breast cancer and gynecological health. This national, free and virtual event will empower Black women with the awareness, education and resources they need for their health, including breast cancer and gynecological health information.
When: Thursday, March 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: Click to Register

Taking Action – Our Journey to Dismantle Anti-Black Racism

Women’s College Hospital is committed to dismantling systemic racism and oppression. On January 23, 2023, we shared a report with an update on our journey to dismantle anti-Black racism (ABR).

The goals of our ABR corporate commitments include:

  • Improved experience for Black staff, physicians and volunteers
  • Increased opportunity for engagement in decision making
  • Evolved partnerships with Black communities and the organizations that serve them
  • Measuring and working to increase diversity and representation across the organization
  • Measuring What Matters

See the full update: www.womenscollegehospital.ca/antiblackracismreport


African, Black and Caribbean Employee Resource Group (ABC ERG)

In fulfillment of our Anti-Black Racism (ABR) Corporate Commitment to creating psychologically safe spaces through the establishment of engagement processes, the first Employee Resource Group was created through the Corporate Equity Committee in November 2022.

Established for persons who identify as African, Black and Caribbean, the group is intentionally designed to:

  1. Build psychological safety and sense of belonging.
  2. Empower employees and support staff retention
  3. Act as a resource, which can be leveraged by leadership in strategic decision-making

More specially, the ABC ERG Conceptual working group has agreed on a mandate to serve as:

  1. A safe, welcoming and surveillance-free space for all Black staff at WCH
  2. An accountability framework, for our WCH ABR Corporate Commitments, which monitors and addresses concerns of:
    • How Blackness is perceived and welcomed at the hospital
    • Persistent systemic issues that exist for Black staff, which impact their tenure at WCH
    • How our recruitment and promotion policies support members of the Black community
    • How WCH relationships with our community partners support Black health equity (and it’s intersections)
  3. A forum for education around issues of Black culture and Black Health Equity, including the planning of special events

Name Designation & Department
Janelle Noel Service Coordinator, Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre; Coordinator, Infant CPR Program
Allan Smart Addiction Outreach Worker, Substance Use Services / Addictions Medicine
Sandra Tahal Medical Secretary, Surgical Clinics
Judy Redhead Environmental Services Partner, Environmental Services
Leonie Wizzard Administrative Patient Flow Supervisor, Toronto Academic Pain Medicine Institute (TAPMI)/Crossroads Refugee Clinic
Angella Lakhan Surgical Services Secretary

 

We are Women’s: Black History and Futures Edition Spotlights

This Black History and Futures Month, we are spotlighting and celebrating our Black team and community members from across the organization as part of our We are Women’s series. Stay tuned for updates to this section throughout the month of February!

Featured Artists

Steel Drum Hu in front of his steelpan

Steel Drum Hu

Born on the island of Trinidad & Tobago, the land of the steeldrum, Hugh migrated to Canada and pursued his music education by studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and later graduated from Humber College’s Music Program. His repertoire not only includes the traditional Harry Belfonte Calypsos and Bob Marley reggae songs but also many Latin, R&B, Gospel and Jazz standards. He has performed extensively throughout Canada and the United States, and now WCH welcomes him as he plays us in to Black History and Futures Month in the Peter Gilgan Atrium on February 1.

Headshot of Madison Cook

Madison Cook

Madison Cook is an artist of Grenadian and Trinidadian descent. Painting acts as a vessel in her life, through which she is able to express and come to understand herself, and the self in relation to the social world. Madison’s paintings display Black people separated from the social constructs that sought to limit them. Her work heavily incorporates themes of identity and representation through the use of bold colors in an effort to make visible her brothers and sisters who have otherwise been marked invisible.

Unity

Madison’s painting entitled ‘Unity’ is the primary artwork featured in WCH’s Black History and Futures Month programming. Madison shares the following quote when describing this piece:

‘Unity’ is sisterhood. 

This piece is meant to depict the love, warmth and sense of community Black women exude. It is representative of the unity and togetherness embedded and embraced through the bonds we create. ‘Unity’ pays homage to the collective-based socio-cultural structure of Black communities, whilst highlighting the integral role of Black women or sisterhood in unifying Black people. 

–  Madison Cook