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February is Black History Month and this year’s theme is “Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build”. The theme, “celebrates the rich past and present contributions and accomplishments of Black people in Canada, while aspiring to embrace new opportunities for the future.”

Healthcare in Canada has benefited enormously from the contributions of Black doctors, nurses and researchers who have historically faced major systemic barriers, but persisted nevertheless. For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, Black Canadians were not allowed to access medical education. Trailblazers like Dr. Alexander Thomas Augusta and Bernice Redmon were initially barred from practicing due to their race but overcame this barrier through activism, determination and persistent work, and would go on to make an indelible impact on their field.

This early progress helped open the door to the increased participation of Black doctors, nurses and researchers in Canadian healthcare. Here is a brief timeline of this history, featuring just a few of the Black Canadians who have shaped medical practice and research, and whose achievements have positively impacted all Canadians.

Additional Resources
Introduction to Anti-Black Racism is a learning module developed by Women’s College Hospital and Dr. Notisha Massaquoi. While education cannot by itself dismantle the systemic inequalities Black people face, it is an important way to raise awareness, create empathy, and spark dialogue.
The FYI: A Conversation on Culturally Sensitive Care
Last month, WHCC hosted a conversation between Kayla Grey and Dr. Aisha Lofters on the importance of culturally sensitive care.

You can learn more about how race can affect a woman’s healthcare experience, and the importance of culturally sensitive care, on the WHCC blog.

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