DLSPH Open: Reflections on National Day of Truth and Reconciliation
Dear DLSPH Community,
On behalf of the School, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in last week’s events leading up to and including our inaugural National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. I am deeply grateful to the Indigenous leaders and partners who helped me to learn and reflect. I’d like to share a few reflections.
During our virtual tour of the former Shingwauk Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie, the camera panned over a door, and I had a learning moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.
It was a door to the school’s ‘punishment room’ – a 2×2 foot crawlspace under a stairwell. The thought of abused, lonely, terrified children crouching in that space, for hours at a time, many miles from home and loved ones, hit me in the gut. While many of us may have a conceptual understanding of the trauma that occurred in residential schools, emotional learnings like these resonate on a different level.
For me, the moment powerfully illustrated why we have these commemorative days – and why we need to make sure these moments live on in our pedagogy and lead to lasting culture change in our institutions.
At DLSPH we are addressing our own issues so that more Black, Indigenous and people from other underrepresented groups are hired and join the student body. We are supporting research to address the racism at the root of health disparities.
As the work of the Equity Diversity and Inclusion Office (EDIO) grows, we will continue to create opportunities for our entire School community to hear from partners that can help us bring the history – and its long reach into the present – to life; people who can help us not just to learn, but to feel why we do this work, and why we need to create a more equitable present and future.
Soon, we will unveil our School’s Equity Hub, which will gather together the stories, information and opportunities regarding our progress and goals in one place. This winter, Prof. Angela Mashford-Pringle is offering the New Respect Cultural Training session. I plan to take it, and encourage you to do the same. We also offer periodic training on anti-racism, microaggression, and other related topics to our entire community. When we see emails about these, I hope we’re reminded of our own personal commitments to learn and do more.
Environments are created and impacted by everyone in them. I urge us all to deepen our own understanding of equity issues. As many of us look to make our actions more meaningful, that effort can be embodied in the difference between sharing a link on social media and taking training to further your learning and influence your actions. The EDIO will continue to provide opportunities to do so.
Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion