Today marks the first day of Black History Month – an important time to celebrate the transformative work and achievements of Black Canadians in shaping Canadian society while also recognizing their struggles and sacrifices due to systemic discrimination. With this year’s theme February and Forever: Celebrating Black History Today and Every Day, it is important that we are always learning and sharing Black histories and activism that are often erased in dominant narratives in order to challenge oppressive power structures that continue to exist today.
February is also a time to celebrate Black joy as part of Black Futures Month, which was established by the Movement for Black Lives in 2015 and is held in conjunction with Black History Month to provide the space to dream and imagine what the future may hold for Black people.
Throughout Black History and Futures Month, our Corporate Equity Committee has organized several initiatives to uplift 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.
During this time, it is also important that we understand that celebration cannot take the place of action. There is still much work to be done to dismantle anti-Black racism and oppression. As long as systems of oppression continue to exist, it is important to commit to doing the work to dismantle these systems – both on a personal and institutional level – every day.
As an organization, Women’s College Hospital is committed to action. As part of this ongoing work, a Black Community Consultation was conducted and 12 anti-Black racism corporate commitments were developed in May 2021 to follow up on recommendations in the consultation report. With a focus to dismantle anti-Black racism throughout the organization, the goals of these efforts are to:
- Improve the experience for Black staff, physicians and volunteers
- Increase opportunity for engagement in decision making
- Evolve partnerships with Black communities and the organizations that serve them
- Measure and work to increase diversity and representation across the organization
- Measure What Matters
While we are making progress towards our commitments, we know that this is an ongoing journey and we still have a lot of work to do in order to achieve a hospital environment that is free from oppression and racism.
Our work to dismantle anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and systemic oppression will not stop here nor be confined to one month of the year. Today I reaffirm our continual commitment to moving forward, having the difficult conversations and creating positive and lasting change.