Celebrating Black History Month through sharing, education, and acknowledgment

Every February, people across the country participate in Black History Month events celebrating people in the Black community and acknowledging their lived experiences. Oak Valley Health is proud to have celebrated this February, with learning events and celebrations organized by staff.

Oak Valley Health’s Network of Black Employees (NBE) is a voluntary, staff-led group that focuses on Black voices and issues affecting staff, physicians, students, volunteers and patients within the Black community at Oak Valley Health (Markham Stouffville Hospital and Uxbridge Hospital).

“Celebrating Black History Month helps us to connect with our cultural heritage,” says Oak Valley Health librarian and NBE member, Abiola Ajayi. “It creates a forum and a safe space for people of colour to come together to learn about each other’s experiences and brainstorm ideas on how to move forward as allies.”

The NBE put together several events throughout the month of February including an information booth, a student writing competition and two speaking events featuring guest speakers Dionne Sinclair, Vice President, Clinical Operations & Chief Nursing Executive at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Jon Corbin, hip hop artist, poet and podcaster.

The student writing competition asked for high school students within the York and Durham regions to submit an essay outlining a personal health care experience, reflection and suggestions for improvement to better serve individuals in the Black community.

“I joined the NBE to positively give back to the Black community at Oak Valley Health,” says Deion Weir, Patient Care Manager and NBE member. “It’s so important to celebrate the contributions of Black individuals in our community. I’m glad to have played a part in bringing these events to our staff this month and beyond.”

Oak Valley Health is proud to be an organization that serves some of Ontario’s most diverse communities with core principles of fostering a safe and inclusive environment. We acknowledge that structural racism, discrimination and institutional oppression exist within our society, and negatively impact health outcomes. We are committed to listening, learning, and taking the necessary actions to ensure every person can come to work or receive care at Oak Valley Health safely, openly, and honestly.


Photo: Abiola Ajayi, Deion Weir, and Funmi Odebode at the NBE information booth.

Story submitted by Alanna Sloan.

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