Reaffirming our solidarity against anti-Black racism
SickKids President and CEO Dr. Ronald Cohn reflects on SickKids’ journey to create a more inclusive environment and to challenge anti-Black racism experienced by our patients, families and staff.
Today marks the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. I want to recognize and commemorate this horrible tragedy, which highlighted the need for all of us to take a critical look at the way systemic racism, and specifically anti-Black racism, not only led to this incident but how it is embedded in the foundation of the institutions that mark our daily lives.
Last June, I made a commitment to stand in solidarity with Black members of our organization and their families, and with the children, families, and communities we serve. I want to reaffirm that commitment and acknowledge that there is still much to be done, and we must continue to reach out to and work together with these communities to validate their fears and create safe spaces.
We know Black members of our community do not always feel safe, welcomed or represented when walking through our doors. Fears of a health-care system that does not reflect and has systemically oppressed and discriminated against Black Canadians, with roots in colonialism and racism, is real. The pandemic has demonstrated how much racialized communities are disproportionately affected and how far we are from achieving authentic health equity and access.
Over the past year, we have begun to take steps in our journey to create a more inclusive environment and to challenge anti-Black racism experienced by our patients, families and staff. Tee Garnett has joined our senior management team at SickKids, and we are beginning work on a vision for an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion action plan that will bring together all of the great work happening across our campus, spark new institutional-level initiatives, and engage in community partnerships to improve the health experience of racialized communities. Aligned with our SickKids 2025 Strategic Plan, we want to move away from a one-size-fits-all care approach to one that addresses and incorporates the perspectives and lived experiences of patients and families to address systemic bias and barriers.
Throughout the past year at SickKids, various teams have led training and education opportunities for staff and people leaders, including a new EDI Champions Program, Black Experiences in Health Care Working Group, Dialogues in Diversity series and Health Equity Rounds. Last June, the Research Institute EDI office delivered training for the senior management team on anti-Black racism frameworks as part of our response to the murder of George Floyd. I also joined the CEOs of more than 200 organizations across Canada in signing the BlackNorth Initiative’s pledge to end anti-Black systemic racism and that has already led to intentional recruitment on the governance board to create opportunities for underrepresented groups. Lastly, as we gear up for Pride Month, we will be raising the Inclusive Pride flag for the first time. This flag and our new acronym “2SLGBTQIA+” represent the inclusion of racialized and transgender Two-Spirit LGBTQIA+ (2SLGBTQIA+) people.
We are proud of our efforts, but we know we still have a long way to go. We’re on our way together, and remain committed to continuing to prioritize equity, diversity and inclusion in all that we do at SickKids, and to creating safe and brave spaces so all can feel seen, heard and valued.
Dr. Ronald Cohn
President and CEO