In the wake of racist violence and anti-Black and Indigenous racism activism taking place here in Toronto, across North America and, in solidarity, around the world, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital needs to be clear that there is no room for anti-Black racism, or any racism, in our hospital community.
To be clear, this means zero tolerance with respect to acts of prejudice, discrimination or racism. As an organization, our commitment to safety, mental health, health equity, diversity and being a force for social justice and social change is embedded in our vision, mission and values. We create a world of possibility for kids and youth with disabilities that includes embracing the intersectionality that is part of every person’s identity including race, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and the other important ways they understand themselves.
But good intentions, words in plans, stated values are not enough. We recognize that systemic racism in healthcare is a public health crisis preventing many historically marginalized communities from accessing services, including at Holland Bloorview. We are actively working to build trust with these communities, but to do that, we must look inward and reflect on our actions and experiences and all work toward un-learning the discriminatory thoughts and practices (whether conscious or unconscious) that many of us have learned and take immediate action to address them.
Putting words into action, moving forward, Holland Bloorview is committing to the following immediate actions with a further strategy for additional short, medium and long-term plans to come:
- Supported by the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, mobilize a self-led Black Holland Bloorview employee group to advance dialogue, education and raising of issues;
- Building on past efforts, create an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Task Force with new terms of reference and an action plan;
- Introduce anti-racism and allyship training into all new employee orientation, as well asbuilding mandatory training for all staff with roll-out starting this summer;
- Develop and adapt anti-racism resources for children and families;
- Implement a demographic survey which will be used to advance an IDEA lens for talent management including mentorship, hiring and retention for underrepresented groups as part of our Thrive Together people plan; and
- Implement a tool to identify vulnerable children and families and embed it into COVID-19 recovery planning efforts.
We are extremely fortunate to have dedicated, passionate and knowledgeable people in our community to help steer this work and make sure we’re on track including Meenu Sikand, our executive lead, equity, diversity and inclusion and Dr. Sharon Smile, equity, diversity and inclusion champion with the University of Toronto's Division of Developmental Paediatrics in the Department of Paediatrics, among many others.
This work will not happen overnight and we all must enter this journey with eyes, hearts and minds open to change, progress and a commitment to doing the work necessary to confront and end racism within Holland Bloorview and beyond our walls. We understand and embrace that, as a hospital community, our anti-racist journey will continue to be filled with necessary discomforts and tensions as our community un-learns and re-learns new ways of being.
A step toward ending systemic racism was taken by Julia Hanigsberg, president and CEO of the hospital and Sandra Hawken, president and CEO of the foundation. As of August 6, 2020, they signed the BlackNorth Initiative pledge, a commitment to end anti-Black systemic racism and create opportunities for the Black, Indigenous and people of colour communities at Holland Bloorview.