Equity can be defined as ensuring that all groups of people, especially under-served populations, are provided equal opportunities and access to various resources and spaces. This could mean access to school/education, access to health care, access to employment, access to housing, and access to a good life. Due to the history of colonization and racism in our nation, Black and Indigenous folks have been and continue to be marginalized. Systems of power that are submerged in White, cis-heteronormative, Judeo-Christian values, have been able to put up barriers for minority groups, making it more difficult to have access to the necessities of life. Achieving equity in any area of society is the ideal as it acknowledges and recognizes systems of power and privilege and seeks to provide the resources required for individuals within minority communities to achieve their goals.
What are your goals for advancing equity within NUS/Bloomberg?
To me, the idea of equity is acknowledging the privileges and disadvantages present within our society and everyday lives and to not only address them but to challenge them in a critical and progressive manner. The goal and idea of achieving equity within our society is made when others, particularly, individuals who are privileged and have the power to asses and implement change within society, notice variances in the ways in which individuals and groups of people are being treated, and take actions towards removing these “hurdles” in their lives.
As a cohort that is entering a professional career, I believe it to be of critical importance to engage our
classmates in recognizing the oppression of ourselves and others, developing skills to combat the systemic consequences of inequity and to build the confidence to enact our teachings into the workplace as well as in our everyday lives. Equity requires a sense of knowledge and willingness to sacrifice for the privileged, a concept that is fairly difficult to adopt. Until privileged groups and society as a whole are willing to provide greater means those with disadvantages, equality will not be achieved.
One of the ways we can advance equity within our Bloomberg community is by partnering with the University of Toronto Students unit and conducting anti-oppression training for all orientation leaders and second year mentors. This training session will work to cover topics including inclusive language and inclusive behaviour when welcoming the new first years into our program. This would include an Equity 101 session, include role playing situations, and may demonstrate how to promote equity within our school and workplaces. Ensuring that orientation leaders are fully trained on how to behave in a respectful manner towards each other as well as incoming first years. By doing so, we will surely enhance the welcoming experience and set the standards of the equitable behaviours expected of Bloomberg students (and really everyone).
Do you have personal experience of marginalization and/or empowering those who have been marginalized?
Being a woman of colour, born as a first generation Canadian to two parents who fled their countries of origin as refugees, I have constantly been aware of the privilege I have been given to live in a well-established and “free” nation. I have used this acknowledgement of privilege to pursue opportunities to empower marginalized groups. Throughout my life, I have been influenced by the interactions I’ve shared with diverse populations of individuals that have guided me to pursue my passion in healthcare. The opportunity to work with youth, professionals, clientele and classmates has provided me with invaluable skills and insights in working with others. I have learned that I deeply appreciate being able to provide care and support to individuals from my time as a Paediatric Hospital Volunteer in the urgent care unit. As a Camp Counsellor for autistic children, I developed strong communication skills, patience and a love of teaching.
Previously, I pursed a teaching experience teaching in Ghana, Africa, and confirmed my desire to educate. From spending time with the children that are often ostracised within their own society, I knew that I wanted a career that allowed me to empower others with information in order to build the capacity for them to do things independently. As a research assistant in the Eating Disorders Program, I learned the importance of client-centred care and empowering patients. Through helping the patients, I learned the importance of incorporating patient values and preferences into treatment plans and to make them feel in power of their own decisions. By working with various marginalized groups, I have been provided with the opportunity to give back to the people who helped me develop my morals, taught me compassion, strengthened my work ethic and in turn, shaped me into the person I am today.