Participants felt ‘deeply moved’ by the Dean’s Lecture Series:
Racism in Medicine
The first student-led, organized and developed school-wide discussion on racism
Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) medical students, faculty, staff and allies at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine came together to hold a deeper discussion about racism in medicine—the first of its kind at NOSM.
“Still absolutely floored by this session. Thank you so much to our brave student organizers and panelists for bringing this to life. I’m at a loss for words,” wrote Nada Abdel-Dayem, a BIPOC first-year NOSM medical student.
Over 100 people from the NOSM community participated in the very personal and heartfelt conversation with emotional testimonial and truth-telling by special guests and physician leaders across Canada.
NOSM medical students Dee Shin, Justina Marianayagam, Tamika Hamlet, Nusha Ramsoondar, Madeleine Nolan and Brooke Raycraft decided that in today’s climate, it was necessary to bring the conversation of racial injustice to NOSM. An impactful moment was when the BIPOC student leaders took a moment to dedicate the presentation to their parents, all immigrants to Canada from several countries, including the Caribbean, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Sri Lanka and Zambia.
The discussion was guided by an impressive panel of Canadian BIPOC physician leaders, including: Dr. Alika Lafontaine, the first Indigenous President-Elect of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA); Dr. Doris Mitchell, an Indigenous physician scholar, NOSM Alumna and NOSM Assistant Professor; Dr. Gigi Osler an ENT Surgeon and former CMA President; Dr. Amy Tan, a Palliative Care Physician; and, Dr. Kona Williams, Canada’s first Indigenous Forensic Pathologist and NOSM Assistant Professor.
Anti-racism was the lead topic of conversation as participants shared some of their personal experiences with incidents of overt and covert racism. Students educated participants on the importance of understanding the differences between various forms of racism, highlighting that all forms are unacceptable and should not be tolerated. They also shared strategies for allyship that go beyond social media and more “optical” shows of support by informing yourself, volunteering, advocating, donating, and using your privilege for allyship.
“The Iceberg of Racism”
presented during the discussion.
“Anti-racism is embedded into our Strategic Plan at NOSM,” said Dr. Verma. “Our Board of Directors passed a motion on anti-racism and have asked us to address it in the curriculum, in our policies and to speak out and eliminate racism at NOSM. We had planned for the year of 2021 to be dedicated to climate change and social justice — we are committed to the anti-racism movement at NOSM.”
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The panelists highly recommended the following influential books addressing racism:
The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
Dignity-Conserving Care by Harvey Chochinov
21 Things You May Not Have Known About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph
From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle
We Are All Perfectly Fine by Jillian Horton