VHA honours Black History Month 2022 this February
February marks “Black History Month” or “Black/African Heritage Month” in Canada. In 1995, Canada officially recognized Black History Month following a motion introduced by the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament, the Honourable Jean Augustine.
For many Canadians, recognizing Black History Month provided a doorway into the culture and experience of Black/African people. Many Black Canadians have also shared that Black History Month has a disproportionate focus on the past and narratives of slavery and colonialism. There have been calls for a shift that recognizes the past, but also celebrates the present and imagines a radical, bold and bright future for Black Canadians.
VHA Home HealthCare is proud to commemorate Black History Month 2022. This February, VHA hosted a series of events for its staff and service providers to create meaningful space for reflection, celebration and important learnings to become better allies of anti-racism.
Seeing is Believing: Dismantling Racial Bias in the Workforce
Hosted by Sean Mauricette in collaboration with the Ontario Black History Society, this presentation to kick off Black History Month inspired staff members and service providers with an empowering presentation on Black history prior to slavery through to present-day, and also shone a light on the importance of diverse hiring practices and how collaborative efforts can make for a more engaging workplace experience.
Sean Mauricette has been an actor, musician, educator, and motivational speaker for more than a decade. A graduate of University of Toronto’s Faculty of Architecture, Sean has worked on various projects. Most notably, the Jane and Finch Centre for Green Change and as Head Architectural Designer for the Toronto Community Housing’s support centre for young fathers. The recipient of more than 20 awards, Sean was presented with the 2012 Medal of Appreciation for his work with youth from the United Nations Association of Canada.
After spending years as a motivational speaker, Sean branched out and began delivering his presentations to corporations. A combination of his various speaking engagements and personal experiences, these talks focus on how to address anti-Black racism in the workplace, while offering collaborative solutions on how to dismantle racial bias. He is also the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Courageous Communications, a company that helps corporations and organizations achieve their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive (DEI) goals.
Through performing, lecturing, and mentoring, Sean continues to cement his role as an active leader in the global community.
Understanding Anti-Black Racism in Healthcare
This February, VHA also launched a new monthly training series for VHA’s staff and service providers, VHA Inclusion Dialogues (VIDs). The first of the monthly series had nearly 150 attendees and was hosted by VHA’s own Adam Benn, Manager of DEI. It addressed how implicit bias and racism can affect health outcomes and other barriers to care. The session also taught strategies for healthcare workers to deliver competent, inclusive care.
VIDs will be held on a monthly basis and staff and service providers who complete all sessions offered within the course of a year will receive a certificate of completion.
Virtual Party with DJ Black Cat
To close out Black History Month with an air of celebration and joy, VHA’s Anti-Black Racism Action Group hosted a virtual gathering with Toronto-based DJ Black Cat. VHA team members tuned in to listen, bob their heads and even dance together virtually to Black Cat’s world-class soul, reggae, hip hop and R&B spinning.
DJ Black Cat, otherwise known as Mykel Hall, has been a fixture in the city’s queer club scene for three decades and is a Co-program Director for Pride Toronto.
VHA’s commitment to Anti-Black Racism
In February 2022 VHA also released its first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report, which captures key insights from VHA team members, volunteers and Board members regarding DEI experiences at VHA. It also shares accomplishments of the Anti-Black Racism Action Group in 2021 in areas of Data Collection and Reporting, Education and Training, Policy and Communication and Advocacy. Lastly, the report shares VHA’s comprehensive DEI goals for 2022. Learn more and view the report.
We remain committed to acknowledging the accomplishments of the Black community in Canada through the celebration of Black History Month in February. And we believe the celebration of Black/African culture must extend beyond February and into our day-to-day work. This is the work of VHA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Manager and VHA’s Anti-Black Racism Action Group together with everyone at VHA.
VHA is also firmly committed to the elimination of systemic anti-Black racism. Recent healthcare data has demonstrated that Black communities, like other marginalized communities, have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. We know that VHA staff have been working tirelessly for almost two years in a global pandemic. While we do not know what the next weeks and months will bring in terms of the global pandemic, we know that here at VHA we continue to support the work of anti-Black racism and will continue to strengthen and support our strong workforce.