Every role at VHA contributes to something amazing. At Home with VHA tells the stories of those who make up VHA Home HealthCare. In honour of Black History Month this year, we’re shining a light on members of VHA’s Anti-Black Racism Action Group as they advocate for and work towards positive change in their work and in their communities. Meet Akil Ade, Best Practice Palliative Care Nursing Supervisor.
What do you love most about your role at VHA?
Akil: The answer is complex and layered. My work mirrors my personal life in that each day starts with a plan on a conscious level, usually hatched from the previous days’ triumphs and challenges with a few overnight superhero dreams and nightmares. My assigned scope of practice is not a limitation to my experiences. Each day can easily turn into a football match where I may be asked to go left in the middle of moving forward – I love this. This role will not allow me to stagnate, the leadership team makes spaces for my skills to grow and develop.
How does your team make a difference in the lives of palliative clients and their families?
Akil: I am fortunate to have an excellent team of nurses. We are a small group averaging less than 12 staff. I recently received a compliment from one of our external partners that speaks for itself:
“I am happy to share some positivity when the world is so focused on the negative lately.
I feel compelled to share the compliments of a recent family as well as my own to Jusel and Usha. They both have strong assessment skills and always provide excellent reports. They are strong communicators, both in hand over and advocacy for clients. There is also another family that they currently care for that sing their praises every time I speak with them. They feel very well supported and are grateful for the help and guidance of both Jusel and Usha. The patient and wife call them both Angels and would like to know where they hide their wings.”
What inspired you to join VHA’s Anti-Black Racism group?
Akil: When I first joined VHA I saw that there were celebrations of other groups and I wondered why VHA did not acknowledge African Heritage Month when so many People of Color worked for VHA. The celebration of African heritage is not for one group of people, we are all connected, and historically it is usually the activism of African people who push governments to make changes for humanitarian progress and we all benefit on the backs of the assertiveness of the African diaspora. I actually thought it would be racist of me to ask why we did not acknowledge African Heritage Month – that is the power of internalized racism – it enforces silence and fear.
I joined because I need to claim and support the importance of my ancestors. I wanted to contribute the positives of the African diaspora journey, and it is an opportunity for me to go right in my daily match.
This Black History Month, we’re reflecting on the past, the present and the future What do you hope to achieve through the work of the action group and why is it important that those who work in home care contribute to this very important work?
Akil: The Anti-Black Racism Action Group can achieve many things and send a message to stakeholders (staff, external partners, clients) that we are committed to social justice not just through talking the talk but by engaging in our own self-assessment and changes to ensure a healthier work place. There will be opportunities to create powerful partnerships with other organizations that do anti-racism, anti-oppression work. There are opportunities to build and grow the VHA brand on a provincial level and beyond by opening this conversation and building a sustainable program. Perhaps VHA can have a presence at the different ethno-specific festivals (through partnering) our city has during non COVID times. The biggest message this work can send is that VHA will be an excellent place to work and receive care.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Akil: I have had great experiences here at VHA that have challenged my way of thinking and being in the world – work is what I do, reality is what I face.