The Faculty of Health Sciences is a community of faculty, staff, and learners. Like many we are shocked, saddened and gravely concerned about the anti-Black racism and violence at the hands of police, and the ensuing tragic events, occurring in the United States. We recognize these deaths and events as a part of systemic injustices and inequities that are made more evident with the current pandemic, are also present within Canada and within many institutions, including our own.

As leaders in health education, research and clinical care we stand in solidarity with those who find themselves as targets of anti-Black racism and violence within our communities. 

Racism contributes to poor health outcomes and to ignore it is to contribute to health inequities.  We commit to hold ourselves accountable to work toward ending health inequity and creating an environment where all students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to thrive.

We strongly support the statement from the university and the statement from PACBIC (President’s Advisory Committee on Building an Inclusive Community and acknowledge that there is much work to be done.  We are committed to improving our diversity by enhancing our recruitment, selection, and retention processes, and to work to embed equity and inclusion in our systems and culture.  We recognize there is a legacy of systemic racism within our health and education institutions, and its manifestation ranges from racial bias, micro-aggressions and harassment to racial discrimination, oppression and violence.

We will listen closely to and be guided by those voices with lived experience within the Faculty as well as the communities we serve.  Our Faculty Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (EDIAC) is working to educate our faculty, staff, and students and to hold our leaders accountable for equitable and inclusive processes and outcomes. 

While many of our programs and schools have initiatives in place, these efforts are not enough. We need to enhance these initiatives and expand our efforts into programs and schools across the Faculty.  We can and we will do better.  We will demonstrate more tangible action to fight injustice and create more equitable, inclusive, socially responsible, and safer learning and working environments.

Racism has no place in healthcare education, research and our communities. We stand with all those that have voiced grave concerns about racism. We will continue to work towards removing the discrimination and barriers faced by our students, staff, faculty and all others in our community. 

We will work to develop a culture of empowerment, humility and continuous improvement; a space where people feel able and empowered to bring issues forward, where community members invite self-reflective and hold each other accountable for behaviours, and where leaders embrace constructive critique and opportunities for change.  

We must learn from the wisdom of one of the greatest people of the 20thcentury, Nelson Mandela, who suffered immense hardship at the hands of a brutal and racist regime: “One of the things I learned was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.” 

We will listen, we must learn, and we will act.

Paul M O’Byrne MB, FRCP(C), FRSC,
Dean, Michael G DeGroote School of Medicine,
Vice President, Faculty of Health Sciences,
Distinguished University Professor,
McMaster University.