Sign reading "stop racism"
On intersectionality: "It’s basically a lens, a prism, for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other. We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality or immigrant status. What’s often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts."
Kimberlé W. Crenshaw law professor, critical race scholar, civil rights activist

policy Disruption of all forms of racism

In 2020, the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences’ Faculty Executive Council approved the Disruption of all forms of racism policy, the first anti-racism policy to be passed by any faculty or post-secondary institution in Canada.

Why an anti-racism policy specifically? Well, if a policy does not take race into account in a meaningful way, then racism can remain “invisible” or can be deemed to be nonexistent and therefore allowed to persist and potentially increase. We must be proactive not reactive.

This policy constitutes a formal recognition of racial harassment, discrimination, vilification, and racism.

It is an affirmation of:

  • The histories of dispossession, enslavement, genocide and their legacies
  • Ongoing settler colonial projects
  • The humanity, rights, dignity and safety of BIPOC students, staff and faculty

Visit the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences policy page to read the full text.

Learning module

Learning module 1: Disruption of all forms of racism policy 

This is a slide show intended for students, staff, faculty and external parties to provide an introductory understanding of the concepts related to racism and the issues the policy was created to address as well as providing a historical context.

Anti-racism learning module (.pptx)

Note: to open the downloaded file, select "read only". No password is required.

Glossary

To create a shared understanding, we have posted a selection of terms taken from the Rady Faculty of Health Science's Disruption of all forms of racism policy. This is not an exhaustive list.

Explore the glossary

Blog: Race matters

Join Dr. Marcia Anderson and Dr. Delia Douglas for a discussion of racism-related issues that impact us all. 

  • Portrait of Dr. Marcia Anderson and Dr. Delia Douglas.
  • The doctor and the sociologist

    We decided to do a blog because it is a space to talk about and reflect on current issues and events in an accessible format.

    These conversations can be meeting grounds – sites of disruption and of possibility – and over time conversations can create community, solidarity, and advance movements for social justice. Each blog will have additional resources.

    Please join us.

October 2022: Racism is a public health crisis

This first blog is an introduction and a conversation – a collaboration between our anti-racism and social justice work.

Visit the Canadian Public Health Association website for a statement on racism and public health.


Marcia Anderson

As a physician, I have seen unequal access and treatment of Indigenous, Black and racialized people in learning and work environment, and read countless journal articles documenting the same.

While we are trained as medical experts and scholars, what we know hasn’t been sufficient to disrupt or address racism in ways that have been shown to close these gaps in unequal care by race.

September 2022


Delia Douglas

As a sociologist, I am attentive to the continuing significance of the legacies of enslavement, imperialism, and settler colonialism in the present.

I have examined racism’s impact in post-secondary institutions, the law and sport – and now I am working in the realm of health care.

That said, there are certainly many points of connection across different systems, organizations and institutions – the pervasiveness and persistence of racisms… I use the plural because racism is not one thing.

The events of the past two years – COVID -19 and the denial of bodily autonomy (the right to health and wellness, freedom from police violence, autonomy over gender and sexuality and the right to look after our children and families in safe and sustained communities) certainly exacerbated existing inequities and they have also produced new forms of violence.

The enduring legacies of residential schools as evidenced in the uncovering of the bodies of the 215 children who died at the Kamloops Indian Residential School (and the thousands more graves identified since), the death of Joyce Echaquan, the murder of George Floyd, and the reckoning with anti-Black racism, the rise in racism against people of East Asian descent, Islamophobia, and the death of Indigenous, Black, and racialized people in police involved shootings across the country.

These are not individual acts of racism, or the actions of a few bad apples, these are instances of systemic racism. These are acts that demonstrate how race influences who lives and who dies. Racism lowers life chances - racism kills.

I am reminded of the insights of the late Audre Lorde, a Black lesbian feminist writer poet and activist (1984). In her words, “We have the power those who came before us have given us, to move beyond the place where they were standing” (Sister outsider, p. 144).

I interpret Lorde’s remarks as both a responsibility and opportunity- our lives are shaped by all that has come before…

There is no quick fix, or toolkit, which can solve racism – if it were easy, we would be in a very different place. A new path forward towards racial justice is challenging, but possible if we commit to new learning, building relationships, cultural shifts, and structural change.

We have commitments – in our Faculty’s Disruption of all forms of racism policy, the Truth and reconciliation action plan, and Equity, diversity, and inclusion policy, and in the University’s commitment to the Scarborough Charter.

We have educational tools available (e.g., Learning module on disruption of all forms of racism policy and Manitoba Indigenous cultural safety training) and in development (e.g., Disrupting dialogues anti-racism speaker series, enhancing our racial literacy activities, and learning module on how to receive a disclosure of racism).

We all have a role to play.

What we need from our Faculty community is humility, accountability, courage, and open engagement with new learning, the application of new knowledge, and full participation in the organizational and structural changes required to create a more racially just environment.

If not now, then when?

September 2022


Resources

Visit the Canadian Public Health Association website for a statement on racism and public health

Audre Lorde (1984): Sister Outsider.
Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press Feminist Series.

Disruption of all forms of racism policy

 

November 2022: Health and anti-Black racism the remix

“In some ways, Canada very much is a welcoming place. However, that can act as a barrier in understanding how racism manifests — it’s not just the racial slur. It's not just the racist targeting. But it is in the very systems of continuing to practice race-based medicine. Even if we had more funding and even if we had more Black physicians and practitioners, if we do not address the very real reality of anti-Black racism — in structures and in practice — we will continue to see poor health outcomes from Black communities.”

- Dr. OmiSoore Dryden, Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University


Delia Douglas

This month’s blog continues Rady’s response to the Scarborough charter. We would first like to extend our gratitude to Dr. Onye Nnorom (University of Toronto) and Dr. Omisoore Dryden (Dalhousie University) for the October 19th workshop: #Blacklivesmatter in health care: historical roots and legacies of anti-Black racism in medicine and the October 20th grand rounds: addressing anti-Black racism in the clinical setting: a look at the social and physiological heath impacts of injustice.

Anti-Black racism – what is it and why does it matter?

Dr. Akua Benjamin, professor emeritus at Toronto Metropolitan University, conceived of the term anti-Black racism to underscore the distinct nature of systemic racism on Black people in Canada that is the result of the enduring legacies of enslavement and the colonization of people of African descent in this country. Anti-Black racism is manifest in policies and practices embedded in Canadian institutions such as, health care, education, and justice that reflect and sustain beliefs, attitudes, prejudice, stereotyping and/or discrimination towards people of African descent.

Consider that the first medical education program in Canada was established in 1824, a decade before the end of enslavement in Canada (1834), and while residential schools were operating.

In 1918 Queen’s University senate voted to ban Black students from enrolling in its medical school. At that time 15 Black men were enrolled in the university’s medical school, and while those students were not formally removed, the administration actively encouraged them to leave the program. Bolstered by the ban, white students put on a minstrel show; approximately half of the Black medical students left the program, while the other half remained. Several decades later, in 1965 Black students returned to register at Queen’s School of Medicine. The ban would not be repealed by senate until the fall of 2018 and an official apology was given in 2019.

In addition, the medical schools at McGill University, Dalhousie University, and the University of Toronto also excluded Black students, or placed restrictions on their admission, for varying periods of time.

Systemic anti-Black racism is evident in the ways people of African descent have long been used to “advance” medicine. For example, J. Marion Sims, the founder of gynecology, and the doctor credited with the creating the speculum was known for developing a surgical technique to repair vesico-vaginal fistula. His breakthroughs occurred at the expense of his subjects, namely enslaved Black women, who he operated on without use of anaesthesia. Henrietta Lacks’ cervical cancer cells were taken and used without her consent. Named after Lacks, the hela cell line represents one of the most important human cell lines in medical research; they have been instrumental in cancer studies and aids research, as well as in the creation of polio and Covid-19 vaccines.

Simply put, the past and present histories of enslavement and settler colonialism in Canada form the foundation of these institutionalized expressions of anti-Black racism in society in general, and in the field of medicine and medical education programs in particular.

Anti-Black racism(s) affect the health and well-being of Black communities in multiple ways. In addition to undermining trust in health care delivery systems and practitioners, it impacts the quality of care that Black people receive, resulting in poor physical and mental health outcomes.

It is therefore imperative that medical and health education professionals are taught about how anti-Black racism affects the social and structural determinants of health for Black people.


Marcia Anderson

In order disrupt the anti-Black racism patients experience, we have to disrupt the anti-Black racism that Black learners and health professionals’ experiences. These experiences are widespread, pervasive, and cause harm including decreased academic performance, burnout and high staff turnover. Disruption requires understanding how anti-Black racism was built into our systems.

The current special issues (volume 194, issues 41 and 42) of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) are an important intervention into this knowledge gap.


Resources

Visit the CMAJ website to view the two special issues on Black health and anti-Black racism in health care:

https://www.cmaj.ca/content/194/41?current-issue=y

https://www.cmaj.ca/content/194/42 

Black health education collaborative: The important role of critical race theory in disrupting anti-Black racism in medical practice and education:

https://www.cmaj.ca/content/194/41/e1422

Canadian medical journal acknowledges its role in perpetuating anti-Black racism in health care

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/cmaj-anti-racism-1.6627312

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2625534/

 

December 2022: Accountability: The relationship between data collection and disrupting systemic racism in health care

Delia Douglas

The measurement, classification, surveillance, and analysis of Black, Indigenous, and racialized minority communities in the service of white supremacy has a long history. While data collection involves achieving a balance between managing need and risk, it is clear that we are operating at a data deficit. The absence of data is a manifestation of systemic racism. In the absence of data, Black and racialized communities will be spoken for, our voices silenced, and racial inequities protected and sustained.


Marcia Anderson

My 2006-2007 masters of public health capstone project focused on developing a proposal to implement the collection of Racial/ ethnic/Indigenous identifiers in Canada because of a deeply held belief that without this we will never be able to close the gaps in health care quality and outcomes that occur by race and/ or Indigeneity. In its absence we create a health care space where we can pretend that color-blindness is good, that we serve everyone equally, and that none of us contribute to systemic racism in Canada. In reality, this further fuels racism because then we don’t examine the system design and actions that create unequal outcomes, and instead blame the people who experience them.


Marcia and Delia

Data collection provides invaluable information that can reveal patterns and guide solutions through resource allocation, quality improvement, and data-driven policy decisions, and participatory program planning. While this is not a new topic, the calls for data collection have certainly intensified over the past two years, as we witnessed the spread and disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Indigenous, and racialized minority communities in Winnipeg, across Canada, and around the world.

Building on the data collection and governance in place to monitor and provide supports for First Nations, in May Manitoba 2020 became the first province to track the racial identities of Black, and racialized minority persons who tested positive for the virus. This data revealed how COVID-19 exacerbated existing inequities and provided invaluable information about the impact of the virus on members of Black, Indigenous, and racialized minority communities, demonstrating the profound inequities in terms of the social determinants of health, highlighting their vulnerabilities, and the urgent need for a targeted response.

In 2016 the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent visited Canada. Their report examined the history and legacy of systemic anti-Black racism. They identified that the lack of race-based data and research on the experiences of people of African descent, noting the need for disaggregated data to adequately address the diversity and complexity of Black identity and lived experience.

While there is no one approach that can be applied to all, creating race data collection standards and good data governance guidelines should be driven by researchers, social scientists, clinicians, and members from Black, Indigenous, and racialized minority communities and/or representative organizations. This approach will help address this systemic barrier that contributes to the economic inequality and health inequities that members of Black and racialized minority communities face across the country.

We invite readers to review the Key Considerations: Race, Ethnicity and Indigenous Identity Data Collection and Use (https://umanitoba.ca/health-sciences/sites/health-sciences/files/2022-11/Key%20considerations.pdf) as a starting point for considering your organizational/ team readiness to move forward with this work.


References

Black Health Equity Working Group. (2021). Engagement, governance, access, and protection (EGAP): A data governance framework for health data collected from Black communities. https://blackhealthequity.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Report_EGAP_framework.pdf

UN Report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent on its mission to Canada. Available at: https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/1304262.

Anti-racism resources

Materials to support, educate and inform our community.

Rady Faculty Reconciliation Action Plan

Ongomiizwin leads the implementation of the Rady Faculty’s Reconciliation Action Plan, developed in response to the health-related calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

  • Image of a small orange ribbon tied to a tree branch.

  • The action plan addresses themes such as:

    • Honouring traditional knowledge and healing practices
    • Providing safe learning environments
    • Improving support and retention of Indigenous students
    • Educating all students and faculty in cultural safety and anti-racism
    • Removing barriers to health professional education

    The action plan was developed through a collaborative 18-month process involving University of Manitoba faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, Elders and Knowledge Keepers. An Elders and Knowledge Keepers advisory circle retreat was held at Turtle Lodge.

Black health and wellness

Rady Faculty of Health Sciences is committed to addressing the varied health disparities and inequities that affect Black communities.

International Decade for People of African Descent

In December 2014, the UN General Assembly, passed Resolution 68/237, proclaiming the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024). “The Decade is a unique platform that emphasizes the important contribution made by people of African descent to every society, and promotes concrete measures to stop discrimination and promote their full inclusion.”

Black health and wellness: Resources to support Rady’s response to the Scarborough Charter

In 2016, at the invitation of the Government of Canada, the Working Group of experts on People of African descent visited Canada. Their findings confirmed that across the country people of African descent live in poverty experience poor health and low rates of educational achievement and are over represented in the criminal justice system. These resources are part of the RFHS’s response to the UN Working Group’s Recommendations and the Scarborough Charter to improve Black health through education and research and to address anti-Black racism and the interconnected systems that impact the health and wellbeing of Black communities across Canada.

Scarborough Charter library guide

Parallel pandemics

The pandemics of racism and COVID-19 constitute a meeting-grounds of life and death for Indigenous, Black and racialized people. Racism is a public health crisis - the pandemic is a health crisis - racism is a pandemic.

Meeting grounds: Collaborating for change

The Office of Anti-Racism will be hosting a range of activities over the course of the academic year to enhance our racial literacy.

  • Graffiti spray-painted on a brick wall reading "racial justice."
  • Some of the topics will include:

    • Black health and wellness
    • Integrative anti-racism and critical race theory
    • Anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Black racism, and Black-Indigenous relations
    • Intersections, coalitions and false equivalencies: the indivisible connections between racial, gender, and lgbtqia+ justice
    • Disrupting whiteness: Continuing difficult conversations

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Contact us

Office of Anti-Racism
Rady Faculty of Health Sciences
P304 B – 770 Bannatyne Avenue
University of Manitoba (Bannatyne campus)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3E 0W3