Supporting ‘Glocal’ Communities this Holiday Season

December 10/2015

Dear Colleagues,

As the holiday season approaches, I’d like to thank everyone for their incredible contributions in the last year. From the successful transition of the Joint Centre for Bioethics into the School, the poignant and timely Racial Justice Matters student-led conference and the Strategic Planning – Towards 2021 and Beyond launch, it has truly been a remarkable year of progress.

Before departing for our well-deserved holiday break, let me tell you about a few ways our community is giving back, locally and globally, and how you can get involved.

The Health Sciences Building community is supporting Covenant House — Canada’s largest homeless youth agency — by collecting donations of non-perishable food items, unwrapped children’s gifts, winter accessories and baby gear.  The gift-wrapped boxes in the Health Sciences Building lobby and in the 6th floor reception area are accepting donations until December 15, 2015 and I encourage everyone to give what they can.

Charitable giving is essential at this time of year, but the Dalla Lana School of Public Health is also engaged in advocacy efforts for long term food security, affordable housing and income security.  Click here for a recent article exploring the link between food bank usage and food security.

In addition to acting locally to help those in need, we are also exploring ways we can respond to the Syrian refugee crisis, both as an academic community and as a community of global citizens, with Professor Andrea Cortinois, academic lead of DLSPH’s Migrant Health initiative, taking a leadership role.

As academics with tremendous scholarship in global public health and migrant health, we are looking for ways to leverage resources at our disposal. For example, the Institute for Global Health Equity and Innovation’s Conversations that Matter initiative, led by Professor Alex Jadad, is considering opportunities to promote discussion around the Syrian refugee crisis focused on the taboos that pervade human migrations, particularly in relation to health and equity.

As a community of global citizens, humanitarian support is an important piece of the Syrian refugee crisis response, and the Lifeline Syria Challenge is providing the infrastructure to sponsor refugee families to come to Canada. This challenge is mobilizing the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, OCAD University and York University communities with a goal of sponsoring 75 Syrian refugee families or 300 people to settle in the GTA.

Professor Geoff Anderson is taking on the role of team lead and hosting an information session for faculty and staff interested in working together to form a team and raise money to sponsor a Syrian refugee family through the Lifeline Syria Challenge.

All members of the DLSPH community, including IHPME and JCB faculty, staff, students and alumni, are invited to attend the information session on December 17, 2015 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. in room HSB 574.  Lunch will be provided. Click here to RSVP.

Overall, DLSPH aims to facilitate a collective response to this global human migration crisis that is meaningful, powerful and rooted in research and education.  Thanks go to Professors Andrea Cortinois, Geoff Anderson, Lisa Forman, France Gagnon, Alex Jadad, Dan Sellen and Ms. Rani Kotha for leading the development of a joint strategy in response to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Next, I would like to share a Strategic Planning Update.  Following a very successful Strategic Planning Retreat on November 23, Professors Daniel Sellen and Adalsteinn Brown have a great deal of valuable input and reflection to produce a first draft of the plan. I’d like to underline that this is an ongoing process and there will be more opportunities for faculty and staff to provide feedback into the plan, including input on the School’s vision and mission.  Please visit the Strategic Planning – Towards 2021 and Beyond website for updates.

Finally, thank you to all those who support the School with an annual contribution. This does make a difference to our programs and students. If you are still considering a year-end donation, please visit our Make a Gift links:

Thank you to each and every one of you for a truly memorable year.  Enjoy your time off and I look forward to seeing you in the New Year.


Howard Hu