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July 06, 2020

SickKids CCMH response to anti-Black racism

The recent violent and disturbing events experienced by the Black community across Toronto, Canada and the U.S. reflects our ongoing challenges with anti-Black racism, and reminds us that systemic racism across all our institutions remains an entrenched problem, a public health crisis and a priority for all leaders of agencies and institutions. We share in SickKids President and CEO Dr. Ronni Cohn’s acknowledgment that “the last weeks and months have been incredibly painful for Black communities all around the world. We collectively grieve with the families and friends of those who are victims of social injustice.” SickKids and SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health (CCMH) stand in solidarity with Black members of our organization, their families and with the children, youth, families and communities that we serve. We share a responsibility to understand and to act against racism at every level. We must understand the origins and current manifestations of racism, and work together to create a just, equitable and healthy society. The impact of racism on health outcomes of children, families and communities is well documented and now the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted in Canada and across the world the disproportionate suffering of the most vulnerable individuals in society. The time for change is long overdue, and we still have a lot of work to do. We at SickKids are committed to prioritizing equity, diversity and inclusion, and creating an environment in which every individual is made to feel recognized, respected, validated and valued.

As part of this SickKids commitment, both SickKids CCMH and SickKids CCMH Learning Institute acknowledge the pain and trauma that racism has caused our clients, our staff and our colleagues and the need for our organization to work as an active ally of the Black community. This is critically important in the area of mental health which is profoundly and negatively impacted by all forms of racism, violence and brutality. To that end, SickKids CCMH will undertake a revitalized response with the formation of a health equity and anti-racism initiative that will be led by a dedicated working group informed by staff, clients and leadership. Through this consultative process, we will develop an action plan that re-defines our goals and commitments focused on fighting racism and anti-Black racism. Terms of reference, priorities and key deliverables will be established by the fall of 2020. Focused on these critical priorities, SickKids CCMH will continue to work collaboratively with our system partners, SickKids, our academic and cross-sectoral colleagues and the Toronto Lead Agency. We will be sharing updates on our work in this space and we invite you to follow our progress.

Christina Bartha
Executive Director
SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health
SickKids Brain and Mental Health Program