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Holland Bloorview celebrates Black History Month: Embracing diversity and inclusion

Holland Bloorview is celebrating Black History Month to honour the rich history, achievements, and contributions of Black individuals and communities. As an organization dedicated to fostering inclusion, diversity and equity, Holland Bloorview recognizes the importance of commemorating Black History Month as an opportunity to amplify and celebrate Black voices and stories, learn from and about our history and strengthen our allyship.

Every February, people across Canada participate in Black History Month events and festivities that honour the legacy of Black people in Canada and their communities. The theme for Black History Month 2024 is Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build.

Throughout the month, we have planned a series of events, discussions, and educational sessions that aim to promote dialogue, understanding, and appreciation for Black history and culture. We encourage all staff, clients, families and community members to actively participate and engage in the various activities planned for the month, including a feature presentation with Kids Health Alliance. For your added learning, we have identified some external community events as well – please scroll down to the end of the article.

Reflections from senior management team and staff

"Black History Month is a time for us to reflect on the incredible contributions of Black individuals throughout history and celebrate the richness of diversity and inclusion. At Holland Bloorview, we are committed to confronting and addressing anti-Black racism and fostering an environment that embraces and values the unique perspectives and experiences of all individuals. As we celebrate Black History Month, we reiterate our commitment to building and fostering an inclusive, diverse, equitable environment, where leaders and staff are representative of the communities we serve and are valued and treated with respect and fairness.” Julia Hanigsberg, president and CEO

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I recognize that an important part of Black excellence includes the ability to overcome barriers, surpass expectations and stereotypes, and defy the odds to grow and succeed through and despite challenges. The Black community at Holland Bloorview will uplift each other and collectively celebrate our wins.” Justice Anning-Karikari, client service facilitator

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“Holland Bloorview values differences and diversity, while upholding equity and inclusion for all. We are dedicated to empowering a thriving, diverse community. Black History Month is an important opportunity to amplify diverse voices, perspectives, and justice-seeking change ideas. I am excited about the events planned for this month. It is an opportunity  for us to come together, learn from each other and actively contribute to the culture of respect and understanding here at Holland Bloorview. I look forward to the month-long journey of learning, celebration, and solidarity with the Black community." Tracey Millar, vice president, people and culture

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“For me, it’s all about knowledge and trying to make the world a better place for all. I don’t believe you can do the latter without knowing where we have been and where we are. I have always wanted to learn history so that I can help us progress. Acting upon knowledge for progress can be uncomfortable. As a privileged white man I want to feel uncomfortable because I believe that’s how progress is made. The quotes below inspire me to step outside my comfort zone:

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.“ - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“The time is always right to do what is right.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” - James Baldwin

– Josh Scroggy, operations manager, autism services, psychopharmacology and robotics

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“I would like to see the organization continue creating an environment where everyone, especially those who look like me, feel seen, heard, and celebrated. Black History Month is a time to recognize our history, our culture and our accomplishments. I hope to see the organization celebrating our culture and history more." – Beverley Prescod, dietician aid

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“As we celebrate Black History Month, I’m reminded of a parent who commented in 2015 in a BLOOM survey that she rarely saw Black children and families featured in BLOOM. She was right. We often fell back on reaching out to families who were on our advisories, and they were largely white. Since then we have actively recruited racialized families. They are a large part of our population and deserve to have their stories told. Racism and ableism often stack up against these families, creating additional barriers to services and inclusion for their children.”  Louise Kinross, editor, BLOOM

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“The 2024 theme for Black History Month is: Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build. As Holland Bloorview celebrates 125 years of care for children and youth with disabilities and developmental differences, Black History Month offers an opportunity to pause and reflect on Holland Bloorview’s own history and heritage with respect to Black communities in and around Toronto. The original ‘hospital’ was created by “The Ladies Committee”; 22 women with a passion to address the lack of care available for children with chronic illness and disability. As we learn about our own history, we are reminded that one of our very first clients was a young Black girl named Victoria. As we celebrate Black History Month 2024, we invite our teams, colleagues, students, clients and families to join us in learning about and sharing stories about Black communities across Canada.” – Joanne Maxwell, interim lead, experience, transformation and social accountability 

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“As part of Holland Bloorview’s 125 celebration where we rightfully acknowledge our organization’s tremendous impact on the lives of thousands of children and families, I recently viewed a picture of one of the documented earlier clients Victoria, who was Black. Very little is known of her, apart from her first name. It made me reflect how historically in many ways, we’ve always been present but not seen, despite being in Canada for over 400 years. Therefore, when I think about celebrating Black heritage and building a future, my wish is that when we celebrate other milestones, we will fully include the stories of Black staff, clients and families in our journey.”   Lorraine Thomas, manager, inclusion, diversity, equity accessibility and anti-racism (IDEAA)

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"Reflecting on Holland Bloorview's 125th celebration, Black History Month, and what is starting to be my son's (Junayd's) next chapter in life - I remember the first time we walked into Holland Bloorview and it seemed to me that it was a space that welcomed both myself and Junayd. The last couple of years, Junayd has been exploring who he is and what that means as he discovers his identity, whether he wants to fit in, and most importantly, his feeling of belongingness. Junayd expressed to me how important it is to be able to see himself, all of his intersectionalities and people who look like him, represented in the places and spaces where he receives health care because his belonging does not require him to be anything other than himself. Ensuring that spaces are inclusive for all clients and families is an important consideration for the organization moving forward." - Alifa Khan - Family Leader

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Join us in this celebration of Black excellence at Holland Bloorview. Let's build a future where everyone is recognized, celebrated, and empowered.

 


 

Unless otherwise indicated, events listed are free but will require advance registration.

  • February 1, 2024 - Waveland Canada 
  • February 7,15 & 21 (March 6, April 26, May 1) 2024 - Ontario Association of Social Workers
    • “Black Voices in Social Work” is a free, online series spotlighting Black innovation, leadership and Black-centric approaches in social work. Black social workers are advancing best practices and quality of care with culturally - responsive and evidence-based approaches to empower and uplift Black communities.  Registration required. 
  • February 8, 2024 - University of Toronto Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office (in-person and virtual) 
  • February 17, 2024  - Taibu Community Health Centre 
  • February 14 - 19, 2024 - Toronto Black Film Festival
    • This annual event seeks to invite audiences to see the world from another person’s experience and connect black films with viewers of all colours and ethnicities. 
  • February 17 - 19, 2024, Art Gallery of Ontario
  • Saturday February 24, 2024 - Hungry Eyes Media
    • Black History Symposium: Black History is Canadian History
    • A free one day event exploring the value of Black Canadian history in our education system (virtual and in-person). Educators and community members passionate about promoting Black Canadian history are invited to connect with like-minded leaders.
  • February 1 - 29, 2024 - Harbourfront Centre
    • KUUMBA Toronto’s largest and longest-running Black Futures Month festival, embracing the rich tapestry of culture, diversity and creativity through a month-long celebration of Black cultural programming.