As Black History Month (BHM) ’17 comes to its crescendo finish, there’s a lot to celebrate (and more than just the very surprise ending at last night’s Oscars). BHM has really amped up across North America,  including right here at University Health Network! To counterbalance February’s brevity, BHM at UHN started on January 25 with jam-packed opening ceremony in the leafy green DeGasperis Conservatory.


Though there were excellent speakers (Celina Caesar-Chavannes was wonderful!), a highlight for me was the pop-up exhibit. Brought to us by Canadian Multicultural Inventors Museum, the exhibit profiled International African Medical Innovators. You can check out the video Humber College made when they visited there…

There was an ecological angle for some, like our favorite kind of reuse/recycling … blood donation. Dr. Charles Drew’s research on storing and shipping blood plasma saved many lives during WWII. He also campaigned against “black” and “white” blood segregation.

Dr Carlton Gyles, Professor at the University of Guelph, is one of the world’s leading experts on E. Coli. With climate change and climate variability on the upswing, contamination events from waterborne and foodborne nasties like E. Coli  are expected to rise.


And though another wonderful Viola was honoured last night, Canada’s own Viola Desmond will be the first Black female on Canadian currency. She’ll also be the first Canadian female on our bills (we have the Queen, but no Canucks). Viola took a stand at a segregated movie theatre in Nova Scotia way back in 1946 (not that we’re competitive, but it was 9 years before Rosa Parks‘ infamous bus ride). Look for Viola on the $10 bill, debuting in 2018. It would be fitting to use those bills to do something revolutionary, something good … or to go see a movie.

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey

Here’s to growing healthy roots. Happy Black History Month!


UHN Black History Month Closing Ceremony

February 28th, 2017: 12:00-13:30
Remarks: Dr. Peter Pisters, Dr. Mary Gospodarowicz and Marnie Escaf
Atrium 7th Floor, Princess Margaret Hospital

Keynote: Dr. Kwame McKenzie, CEO Wellesley Institute, Senior Fellow Massey College, Professor and Director of Equity. Gender and Population Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto