Feb 8, 2022

Black History Month: Message From The Chair

Photo of Black scientist holding a beaker. Image resource: Depositphotos.
Image resource: Depositphotos

Reflecting on the message from Temerty Medicine’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (included below), I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the work that continues toward meeting the goals I laid out in my statement on racism in the summer of 2020.

As I reported in August of last year, significant strides have been made toward the development of more equitable faculty hiring guidelines to help support search committees in implementing institutional policies around EDI best practices and training for academic searches. Click here to view the Departmental Guidelines. Our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee is ensuring search committees are well-trained and held accountable to these guidelines. It is our hope that these improvements and those still to come will attract more esteemed Black researchers to our department, both at the faculty and learner level. If they do not, guidelines will be assessed and revamped until the diversity of our city is reflected in our department. As we know, no research department is truly excellent if historically marginalized voices are missing from the conversation.

As their work on faculty hiring guidelines becomes more finalized and entrenched, the EDI Committee will move on to researching and rolling out pathways for diverse student recruitment and enhanced reporting mechanisms to ensure a departmental culture grounded in anti-racism.

Today we celebrate the Black excellence already happening in our department and look forward to highlighting much more of it as we continue to grow stronger through diversity.

Please consider taking part in some of the initiatives listed below and be sure to read the important message from Drs. Houston, Richardson, and Nnorom included below. Have a wonderful, reflective February everyone.

Breaking the Myth of Objectivity: an event that will focus on the role of bias in quantitative data presented by Medicine By Design (February 11th, 10-11:30 am).

A compendium of events from ARCDO including film screenings, speakers, and curated spaces of restoration and wellness for faculty, staff and students who identify as members of Black community

From the Office of Diversity & Inclusion: Reflecting on Black History Month 2022

Black Canadians have always been trailblazers in healthcare and medicine.

For centuries, the midwives of African Nova Scotian communities modeled holistic care and well-being for the families they supported. In 1861, Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbot made history as the first Black Canadian-born doctor to graduate from the Toronto School of Medicine, an institute that preceded the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. His supervisor, Dr. Alexander Thomas Augusta, was U of T’s first Black medical student, graduating with a bachelor of medicine degree in 1856 from Trinity College. In 1995, Black History Month in Canada began, thanks to the efforts of Rosemary Sadlier, president of the Ontario Black History Society, and Jean Augustine, the first Black woman elected to federal Parliament.

Part of Black History Month is not only looking to the past for examples of change-makers, but recognizing that the future is now. It’s integral to recognize Black excellence within our community at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, as well as across the University of Toronto. There are countless examples of Temerty Medicine learners, staff and faculty accomplishing exceptional work in their fields. One specific highlight is the launch of the University of Toronto Black Research Network in October 2021, co-founded by Dr. Lisa Robinson, Temerty Medicine’s Vice Dean of Strategy and Operations.

The Faculty recognizes the need for continuous critical dialogue from all levels of our institutions to address unacceptable forms of discrimination, recognizing its adverse effects on the wellness of Black learners, staff, faculty, and patients. It also means acknowledging that structural racism within medicine still exists today. Anti-Black racism continues to persist within health systems, and the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded its harmful effects on Black Canadians. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario created the Black Health Vaccine Initiative. Temerty Medicine faculty members have helped lead this initiative, which has aimed to increase vaccination rates to address gaps in COVID-19 health outcomes for Black Canadians.

The Faculty’s upcoming Anti-Black Racism in Medical Education report will provide an overview of work done at Temerty Medicine to combat anti-Black racism so far. The information shared within the report will acknowledge steps made, and will reiterate the commitments Temerty Medicine is making to improve the experience of Black community members. 

We encourage all members of the Faculty to reflect on how they can eradicate forms of anti-Black racism. Please reflect on what your active role is in the process.

The following resources can assist you:

 Dr. Patricia Houston
Acting Dean
Temerty Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Lisa Richardson
Associate Dean, Inclusion & Diversity
Temerty Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Onyenyechukwu (Onye) Nnorom
Black Health Theme Lead
Temerty Faculty of Medicine