February marks Black History Month, our country’s way of honouring and recognizing the work and sacrifices made by Black people in shaping Canada’s heritage, identity and development. However, Black History Month goes beyond reflecting on Black Canadians’ tremendous accomplishments and contributions to history. This is a time for acknowledging and understanding the lived experiences of Black Canadians that have shaped where we are today and taking an honest look at the past so that we can create a better future.
Over the past several months at Women’s College Hospital we have been working to deepen this very understanding. Working with our Black staff and physicians, through interviews and surveys, we have only just begun to get a glimpse into what it means to be Black at Women’s College and in the broader community. In the weeks ahead we will be sharing some of the preliminary findings of our work. First with those who participated, and then across the organization. I want to recognize the strength and courage it took for our Black staff and physicians to come forward and openly share their feelings and experiences. We know we have a lot of work to do in order to achieve a hospital environment that is free from anti-Black racism and that respects the worth and dignity of every individual. Our people, patients and community deserve better.
This letter to you marks the first time that we, as Women’s College Hospital, have recognized Black History Month. We should not have waited until 2021 to do so and recognize this is a humble step forward. As we deepen our anti-Black racism work, Black History Month activities will be planned by a committee that is led by those who identify as Black. This year, we will be undertaking several activities to signal our commitment for change.
It is in the spirit of learning and addressing anti-Black racism that we have asked Tenniel Brown to lead a discussion on anti-oppressive communications. We have scheduled the talk during a regular Town Hall meeting in hopes of increasing the number of people who are able to attend. Full details are coming shortly but for now I encourage you to mark noon on February 23 in your calendar and encourage all your colleagues to attend as well.
Our work to dismantle anti-Black racism and anti-Indigeneity 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.