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Promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion in the health sciences

The Faculty of Health Sciences has launched a new committee, fund, and office to pursue EDI initiatives. 

Photograph of virtual launch event.
Dean Jane Philpott speaking at the virtual launch event for a series of EDI initiatives in the faculty.

Across Queen’s, faculties are making efforts to ensure that the university is creating an equitable and inclusive environment for all people. During a virtual event on Thursday evening, Jane Philpott, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), announced a series of initiatives on this front that include the formation of the Dean’s Action Table on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (DAT-EDI), the opening of the FHS Office of EDI, and the creation of the FHS EDI Fund.

“We are experiencing a period of unprecedented awareness about racism and other forms of oppression. Our approach to addressing these matters must be more than notional. We need action. We need to meaningfully demonstrate our commitment to the principles of EDI in our workplace as well as our teaching, research, and care,” Dean Philpott wrote in a blog post announcing the initiatives. “So we are taking these steps now in order to live up to the challenge of the moment and make our faculty stronger going forward.”

The Dean’s action table will have 150 volunteers from the faculty, who will be divided between an executive committee and seven working groups. Each working group will address a specific theme, such as admissions, curriculum, and professional development. And they will develop recommendations that will lead to the creation of the EDI Strategic Plan for FHS.

Aquila Akingbade, a third-year medical student, is a member of the action table, and he was on hand Thursday evening to describe why he believes these initiatives are important for students.

"As a future physician I am very grateful to be part of this profession and personally I can’t wait to have a positive impact on the lives of my patients, however minimal that is. My peers also echo my sentiments. However, we can only achieve our fullest potential as learners and faculty in equitable and diverse environments. As such to me, equity, diversity, inclusion is about inviting, listening and consulting members of a community when decisions are being made about them," said Akingbade.

The new FHS EDI Fund will provide financial support for the faculty’s initiatives, including recruitment and support for learners from under-represented groups. The inaugural gift for the fund comes from the Carrick Family, who have pledged $200,000 over the next two years. Members of the Carrick Family announced the gift at the virtual launch event.

The new Office of EDI in FHS will also help guide the faculty’s efforts to become more equitable for all students, staff, and faculty. Joining the new office will be former MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, who will be serving in the role of EDI Senior Advisor. Wendy Phillips, an Elder in the Queen’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives, will also be working in the FHS Office of EDI as an Elder in Residence. Both Caesar-Chavannes and Phillips were on hand Thursday to speak about their vision and goals for the new office.

These new FHS initiatives follow a July announcement that 10 seats in each class of the School of Medicine would now be reserved for Black and Indigenous students through the QuARMS pathway.

These initiatives are also part of the university’s broader commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Over the summer, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane led Queen’s in signing the Queen’s University Administration’s Declaration of Commitment to Address Systemic Racism. Also signed by senior leaders from across the university, this declaration will guide Queen’s work to create a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive community.

Learn more about the FHS EDI initiatives on the FHS website.