Inclusion, Diversity & Equity

Our Commitment

As an organization that serves the diverse communities of Durham Region, Lakeridge Health is committed to fostering an environment that promotes inclusion, diversity, and equity.

We know that it is only through acknowledging the existence of systemic inequities and the proactive effort to dismantle unjust barriers within health-care institutions that we will be able to develop real solutions that will make a difference to staff, physicians, volunteers, patients, and the community we serve.

Over the last two years, we have taken a number of important steps to accelerate this work, including:

  • Gathering data to identify system inequities at Lakeridge Health through various internal engagements, such as an organization-wide survey, one-on-one conversations, an online anonymous forum, and virtual focus groups. A report was developed with recommendations that we continue to put into action.
  • Creating Communities of Inclusion for historically disadvantaged communities to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with Lakeridge Health’s vision, mission, values, and strategic plan. Members can use the space for learning, advocacy, increased employee engagement, and population health discussions.
  • Developing a Smudge Ceremony policy that respects the spiritual and cultural practices of First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and Urban Indigenous patients and their family members/ partners-in-care.
  • Recognizing and acknowledging dates of significance throughout the year, such as Black History Month, Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, National Indigenous Peoples Day, the Lunar New Year, Nowruz (Persian New Year), Ramadan, Passover, Holi, and much more.
  • Helping team members come together to acknowledge societal injustices, such as the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Joyce Echaquan.

In addition, as part of our commitment to continuous learning, we are pleased to share this dedicated web page with resources and information.

Black History Month 2022

Black History Month is a time to learn from each other and celebrate the spirit of self-determination and community-building that exists within Black history and culture. This year, Lakeridge Health team members have shared their own personal reflections on what Black History Month means to them.

Kristy Weekes BeausoleilKristy Weekes Beausoleil

Client Care Manager, Community Treatment Services, Pinewood Centre

"I think it’s essential as part of our inclusion, diversity, and equity strategy at Lakeridge Health to highlight Black excellence and move towards advancing equity within our workforce in order to create a healing and safe environment for Black employees. Continued learning and engagement of Black history is also essential to our understanding of present-day contexts. I feel that this understanding will lead to a more empathetic, supportive, and therefore effective health-care workforce at Lakeridge Health and assist us in better connecting with the communities we serve."

 Read Kristy’s full personal reflection.

What does Black History Month mean to you, personally and professionally?

I reflect on the significance of Black History Month in Canada. Black History Month began as a way of remembering the contributions of Black people over time and to recognize the value of Black people in our communities. Some believe it was created out of the notion that Black people needed to learn about and understand their own history in order to participate meaningfully in society. I take this seriously, and particularly use this month to learn more about Black history globally, in North America, and even within my own Bajan (Barbados) heritage.

While I try to include Black history and highlight current and past Black excellence in my daily life, February is a reminder to pause, learn, and reflect. It is a reminder to ensure that I am passing this information on to my children, as it is often forgotten and left out in their mainstream education. Within Canadian society, it is essential to seize every opportunity to display the positive and often overlooked contributions of Black Canadians as a way to combat anti-Black racism and to motivate our children. Black history month is about representation, which is paramount to the growth and inspiration of people. So, during February, I think about inspiring myself, my children, my colleagues, and those around me through the promotion of Black History Month.

Why is it important for Lakeridge Health to recognize and celebrate Black History Month?

I think it’s essential as part of our inclusion, diversity, and equity strategy at Lakeridge Health to highlight Black excellence and move towards advancing equity within our workforce in order to create a healing and safe environment for Black employees. Continued learning and engagement of Black history is also essential to our understanding of present-day contexts. I feel that this understanding will lead to a more empathetic, supportive, and therefore effective health-care workforce at Lakeridge Health and assist us in better connecting with the communities we serve.

During Black History Month, bringing in speakers, having discussions, posting relevant information, or reflecting on our own biases can help us to grow and expand our understanding of others. As an organization, I feel that it is important to do this work all year round, and that we should continually look for opportunities to celebrate diversity and the contributions that Black people have made to health care globally.

What are your hopes for the future of Black Canadians?

As a Canadian citizen and a parent to two young Black children, I desperately hope for a positive future for Black Canadians. I hope that my children will not encounter racism in school, in their extracurricular activities, or in their communities like I did growing up as a Black person in Canada. I hope that my daughter can achieve all of her goals, and that her talents and abilities will be recognized. I hope that my son will be safe and secure and that he will not be seen as a threat or a danger because of the colour of his skin.

I hope that there will be less pain, less obstacles, and less anxiety for Black Canadians. Instead, I hope we see more allies, more understanding, more appreciation, more emphasis on Black excellence and success, more representation and more opportunities for Black youth. I hope that my children will grow up in a society where they feel safe, and appreciated. I hope that they will know about their history and see themselves represented in all areas of society, particularly in health care, education, and government. I hope that we dismantle systems of oppression, eliminate anti-Black racism, and break barriers

 

Dr. Placide RubabazaDr. Placide Rubabaza

Obstetrician/Gynecologist

"We stand on the shoulders of giant social reformers, such as Carter G. Woodson, Frederick Douglass, Viola Desmond, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Jean Augustine, and many others. Black History Month reminds us that it is our duty to continue the noble task of bettering our human race, and especially our Canadian society, to be more inclusive and equitable."

 

Read Dr. Rubabaza’s full personal reflection.

What does Black History Month mean to you, personally and professionally?

Black History Month is an opportunity for me to pause and reflect on the journeys of Black communities, particularly here in Canada. From slavery and colonization to various mistreatments, denials of opportunities, and systemic anti-Black racism, it is a month dedicated to recognizing the struggles Black communities have experienced.

Most importantly, it is a moment to recognize and celebrate the place the Black community occupies in Canadian society and the human race. We stand on the shoulders of giant social reformers, such as Carter G. Woodson, Frederick Douglass, Viola Desmond, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Jean Augustine, and many others. Black History Month reminds us that it is our duty to continue the noble task of bettering our human race, and especially our Canadian society, to be more inclusive and equitable.

Professionally, as we think of ‘Black health and wellness’, it is a moment to acknowledge the health disparities that still exist in Canada – many of which have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is just as much a moment of gratitude as we remember the immense contributions generations of Black midwives, nurses, and doctors have made to the health and wellness of our country. This includes Dr. Alexander Thomas Augusta, Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbot, Dr. Miriam Rossi, and many others.

Finally, with this knowledge in mind, it is a reminder for me, and all Black health-care workers, scientists, and educators, that we need to continue the journey, be at the decision-making tables, address the disparities that afflict Black communities, and advocate for health equity for all.

Why is it important for Lakeridge Health to recognize Black History Month?

Lakeridge Health is a Durham health system that serves a region and workforce that is increasingly diverse. To achieve the objectives set out in its strategic plan – particularly those of improving population health and being a workplace of choice – the Lakeridge Health team must reflect the community it serves.

The Black community makes up a significant component of Durham Region’s population and, similarly, Lakeridge Health is comprised of many Black team members. That’s why it’s so important that the organization celebrates the many contributions of its Black team members and recognizes the history and culture that shapes them. This recognition, when genuine, increases the sense of worth, belonging, and well-being of Black staff and physicians, and ultimately enhances the productivity of the workforce.

However, this recognition must not only be in words and slogans. Rather, these occasions should also be used as a time to ensure the principles of inclusion, diversity, and equity are genuinely imbedded in practices and policies to best advance the organization’s strategic objectives.

What are your hopes for the future of Black Canadians?

My hopes for Black Canadians are really my hopes for Canada. I believe a country is as strong as its weakest members and that these inequities can limit a society’s resilience, innovation, and cohesion. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated that when a segment of the population is excluded from equitable access to services and resources, no one is safe. So, no one should be left behind, particularly when it comes to health care. But, at the same time, I recognize that it is not as simple as that.

Black Canadians are as intelligent, skilled, and capable as anyone else. We must use these skills to reframe Black identity, join and create decision-making tables, genuinely participate in the economic life of the country, and ensure that we have access to services that improve our well-being and sense of belonging in Canadian society. I am encouraged to see a critical mass of Black youth increasingly participating in all sectors of Canadian life.

Our diversity makes us stronger, and Canada can only benefit from it.

 

Rashidat OlufowobiRashidat Olufowobi

Registered Nurse, Mental Health Program

The Black community is a significant part of Lakeridge Health and Durham Region. Celebrating these health-care professionals and their outstanding contributions supports diversity and promotes Black voices in the workplace.

 Read Rashidat's full personal reflection.

What does Black History Month mean to you, personally and professionally?

Personally, it means freedom and equity and the celebration of our proud heritage. This celebration serves as a reminder of all the sacrifices and traumas our ancestors endured in order for Black communities to experience the same privileges in a White dominated society. Black History Month honours the legacy of Black Canadians and the significant events in Black Canadian history. Professionally, Black History Month means the recognition and appreciation of the achievements of Black Canadians, both past and present, and how much they have contributed to Canadian history and culture.

Why is it important for Lakeridge Health to recognize and celebrate Black History Month?

The Black community is a significant part of Lakeridge Health and Durham Region. Celebrating these health-care professionals and their outstanding contributions supports diversity and promotes Black voices in the workplace. This celebration does not have to start and stop in February and the focus should be on creating inclusive workplaces and diverse programming all year long. Lakeridge Health’s commitment is to promote inclusion, diversity, and equity; hence, it is imperative for the organization to recognize and celebrate this population.

What are your hopes for the future of Black Canadians?

My hopes for the future of Black Canadians are to live in a society where colour/race does not matter both visually and politically. I would like to see more diversity among different levels of the workforce and a more inclusive future for Black communities. As Black Canadians continue to shape the story of Canada and make contributions to many aspects of Canadian life, I hope to see the representation of Black people in positions of authority and decision making. Also, to diminish the systemic racism that exists, I hope to see progress towards basic expectations that we live equitably and normalize Black people in leadership roles. A more hopeful future and equal seat at the table for Black communities so we can start living better.

 

 

 

Dr. Julie Ann Francis

Dr. Julie Ann Francis

Obstetrician/Gynaecologist

At Lakeridge Health, in Durham Region, and provincially, I work with a lot of outstanding Black colleagues. For instance, Gynaecolic Oncology at Lakeridge Health includes two Black physicians, which is unique in Canada. We are privileged to have a truly diverse team, and by team I mean all of my partners in care.

 

 Read Dr. Francis’s full personal reflection.

It may be surprising to learn that I have mixed feelings about Black History Month. I have been very lucky to lead a special sort of life, so in my world, Black exceptionalism is not a unique event, but rather a regular part of my lived experience. I think of Black History Month as an opportunity for the larger community to learn more about the positive impact of the Black community.

At the same time, I think it is a bit regrettable that Black History Month is necessary. There are a lot of negative portrayals in the media. For eleven months of the year, if a Black person is identified in the media, it is likely related to a negative event.

For example, mainstream media has spent a lot of time examining vaccine hesitancy in minority communities, but little on what has been done by those communities to address this problem. The phenomenal work of the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario (BPAO) during the ongoing pandemic is one such example. The BPAO realized that for a variety of reasons, government run efforts are sometimes viewed with skepticism by some members of the larger Black community. As such, they knew that the COVID-19 vaccination campaign would be best received if it was provided by members of the same community. The BPAO provided vaccination clinics where Black health care providers had the opportunity to care for the unique needs of the Black community. This program was insightful, practical, and inspirational. I welcome the chance to highlight this type of initiative, and Black History Month is a great vehicle for sharing such successes.

At Lakeridge Health, in Durham Region, and provincially, I work with a lot of outstanding Black colleagues. For instance, Gynecologic Oncology at Lakeridge Health includes two Black physicians, which is unique in Canada. We are privileged to have a truly diverse team, and by team I mean all of my partners in care. That said, if your hiring process is a meritocracy, and you are in Durham Region, then diversity is a natural outcome. In my experience, openness to diversity is often what separates the institutions that are good, from the ones that are the best.

My teammates are all excelling at what they do. They have a shared focus on providing the highest level of care to our patients and work incredibly hard while having a true sense of comradery. They respect each other for the great work that they do, not for what they are or where they came from. They do this every day. I have had enough life experience to understand the team I work with now is very, very special. My hope is that someday our work environment becomes the environment that anyone could expect. What if everyone were judged – as the great Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said – “not by the color of their skin but the content of their character”? Now that would be some history worth making.

 

 

As well, we are taking a look back into history and recognizing the outstanding contributions Black health-care professionals have made towards medical science.

Photo Gallery: Black History Month Historical Profiles 2022 will appear here on the public site.

Quick Links to Resources

 Digital Resources
 Learning Toolkits/Interactive Resources
 
  • Human Library: Everyone has a Story to Share
    • A Human Library is a way for people to reach out and connect with individuals in their community that they might not normally engage with. Visitors to a library have an opportunity during a planned event to borrow Human Books and to engage in conversation with the books. Developed by the Ontario Library Association.
  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
    • We acknowledge and support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action to advance Canada through the process of reconciliation with First Nation, Inuit, Métis and urban Indigenous Peoples. The Call to Action “Health” section envisions improving health outcomes for Indigenous Peoples in Canada. May the partnerships with First Nation, Inuit, Métis and urban Indigenous communities help us work together to provide the best health system for all.
  •  Ontario Health’s (Cancer Care Ontario) Indigenous Relationship and Cultural Safety Course
    • A series of free online courses to help individuals working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. The courses support a call to action made in the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report. These 13 courses provide knowledge about the history and culture of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people and communities.
  •  University of Alberta's Indigenous Canada Course
    • A free 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. This course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective, highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.
 Readings

 Racism in Ontario and Canada

Racism and Health

Resources specifically for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People and People of Colour) 

For White Allies

·       Ontario Health’s (Cancer Care Ontario) Indigenous Relationship and Cultural Safety Course

o   A series of free online courses to help individuals working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. The courses support a call to action made in the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report. These 13 courses provide knowledge about the history and culture of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people and communities.