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3 of 17 medical schools in Canada aim for equity for Black students



Jaycie Dalson’s path to medical school started with her wondering if she even belonged there.

As a biomedical sciences freshman in Ottawa, she saw a photo of a class at a prestigious graduate program she dreamed of attending. In the sea of smiling faces, only one resembled hers.

“Out of 270 students to have one Black student, it’s not good,” Dalson, now 21, said of a class at the University of Toronto.

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But she applied to the medical school anyway through the Black Student Application Program and was accepted for the fall class along with 25 other Black students, the highest number since the optional stream was introduced in 2017.

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While the academic requirements are the same as for the regular stream at the medical school, the program uses Black reviewers and interviewers to vet the applicants’ achievements and a 250-word essays specific to the program, a spokeswoman for the faculty said.

Two other medical schools, from a total of 17 across the country, have collaborated to initiate an admissions process specifically for Black students starting this year — the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary.

University of Toronto’s medicine accepts record-high number of Black students to program

University of Toronto’s medicine accepts record-high number of Black students to program

Dr. Remo Panaccione, director of undergraduate admissions at the Cumming School of Medicine in Calgary, said the inclusion of application reviewers who are Black or people of colour is aimed at preventing any “conscious or unconscious bias.”

“Introducing this process is just one step, really, in the right direction as part of our commitment to anti-racism and equity,” Panaccione said, adding applications must be submitted by Oct. 1 for the first cohort of students who apply through the Black Applicant Admissions Process.

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Having more Black doctors is a plus for Black patients as well, he said.

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“Research suggests that a lack of Black physicians has really resulted in Black patients suffering from a poor quality of care and poorer health outcomes,” he said. “As a medical school our primary obligation is to meet the needs of the population that we serve, and this can only be achieved if our student body reflects the diversity of the population.”

In a typical year, about 1,700 people apply for admission to the medical school and about 150 of them succeed, Panaccione said, adding the competition will remain stiff due to a traditional lack of funding for more spots.

A recognition of the need for more diversity at Canada’s medical schools began in the last decade with the inclusion of students from underprivileged, rural and racial backgrounds instead of predominantly white, wealthy applicants who could hire tutors to help them prepare for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), he said.

‘Face-to-face’ learning could change in the wake of coronavirus

‘Face-to-face’ learning could change in the wake of coronavirus

Attributes such as empathy, collaboration, resiliency and advocacy are now scored along with academic smarts at some medical schools, while all of them have created a range of admission processes for Indigenous students as well, he said.

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When Gbolahan Olarewaju applied to medical school in 2015 and 2016, there were no specific programs for Black students.

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He was accepted at the University of British Columbia’s medical school, where he will be starting his second year this fall.

However, UBC still has not created its own program, Olarewaju noted, adding he is the only Black student among 288 people in his class.

A spokeswoman for the faculty of medicine said it is evaluating current admissions policies and eligibility requirements to determine how they may contribute to under-representation of Black, Indigenous and people of colour students, and is working to create new approaches to overcome barriers.

All medical schools should collect race data on applicants, not just those who have been admitted, in order to know how many people from diverse backgrounds applied and what could be done to address barriers to diversity, said Olarewaju, who is also national chair of the Black Medical Students’ Association of Canada.

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Black Lives Matter secures funding with UNB for Black history content

“There’s sort of this concept of racelessness where they try to avoid these kinds of issues but without collecting some of this critical data it’s hard to know where the problem is,” he said.

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Dr. Genevieve Moineau, president of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, said a pilot survey launched last year at eight faculties asks incoming applicants to provide information on ethnicity, social economic status and health and wellness.

The association will also introduce a survey of all medical-school applicants, whether admitted or not, that asks for detailed information on their backgrounds, parental education level and status in Canada, Moineau said in a statement.

“We recognize that without a diverse applicant pool to draw from we cannot create a diverse class and we are working towards ensuring diversity and equity at the point of application.”

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Dr. Marjorie Dixon, a Black fertility specialist in Toronto, graduated from McGill University’s school of medicine before completing a post-graduate degree at the University of Toronto and further training at the University of Vermont. She was among few Black students throughout her training.

She said it’s about time universities began recognizing the benefits of having Black medical students who would better understand the social and health challenges of Black populations.

“I don’t think, I know, that you deserve to be where you are. You’re not here because of a handout,” Dixon said referring to Black students like Dalson and Olarewaju.

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“We have to right the systemic wrongs of the past and put forward firm and contrived changes now and not apologize for them. It should be: ‘The system is sorry for not having put into place processes to right the wrongs of the past sooner.’ ”

Dixon said she repeatedly heard racist remarks from fellow students and others who questioned her admission to medical school, despite her high academic achievements.

“When I was younger it was: ‘You got into medical school because you filled a quota. You know that, right?’ ”

“People ask me all the time: ‘Where did you graduate?’ It’s an inquisition.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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University of Toronto receives single largest gift in Canadian history from James and Louise Temerty to support advances in human health and health care




A $250-million gift will support discovery, collaboration, innovation, equity and student well-being across the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and its affiliated hospital network, advancing its leadership as a global centre of excellence in human health and health care.

The transformational gift from the Temerty Foundation, established by James and Louise Temerty, will support advances in machine learning in medicine; biomedical research and collaboration across Toronto’s health-science network; innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship; equity and accessibility in medical education; and the creation of a new state-of-the-art Faculty of Medicine building for education and research.

Watch as President Meric Gertler announces this historic gift

The gift also includes a $10-million allocation to the Dean’s COVID-19 Priority Fund, which was advanced and pre-announced in April of this year. This component of the gift continues to support front-line clinical faculty members and trainees, as well as researchers at U of T and partner hospitals seeking to improve testing, accelerate vaccine research and create better treatments and prevention strategies.

In gratitude for this extraordinary benefaction, the university’s Faculty of Medicine will be named the Temerty Faculty of Medicine. The Faculty of Medicine is widely regarded as Canada’s finest and among the world’s best, ranked sixth in clinical medicine and health sciences by the highly respected Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

“James and Louise Temerty’s gift marks the start of a new era,” said U of T President Meric Gertler. “It lifts Canadian philanthropy to an unprecedented level of vision and generosity. And it propels U of T’s globally renowned Faculty of Medicine and hospital partners to a position of even greater scientific and clinical leadership in tackling today’s – and tomorrow’s – greatest challenges in human health care.

“Arriving amidst a global health crisis, the Temerty family’s generosity is truly a gift of hope – hope for what we can achieve together, long after the present crisis has passed, in the comprehensive advancement of human health and health care in the Toronto region, across Canada and around the world,” President Gertler continued. “On behalf of the entire University of Toronto, I would like to offer our deepest gratitude to the Temerty Foundation – to James and Louise Temerty, and to Leah Temerty-Lord and Mike Lord – for their leadership.”

“I would like to thank James and Louise Temerty for their incredible investment in U of T Medicine,” said Trevor Young, dean of the Faculty of Medicine and vice-provost, relations with health care institutions. “Their gift will touch every aspect of our programs, impacting education, research and clinical care across the region and around the globe. It will allow us to respond nimbly to exciting research and partnership opportunities as they arise and lead the way to big medical breakthroughs. It will help us to offer innovative physician training, which will lead to the very best patient care. Ultimately, it will elevate the Faculty’s international standing among the world’s greatest faculties of medicine.”

Founded in 1997 by James and Louise Temerty, the Temerty Foundation has provided significant philanthropic support to health care, education and culture in Toronto and beyond. In the health-care space, their contributions have established the Temerty Centre for Therapeutic Brain Intervention at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Louise Temerty Breast Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and the world’s first international tele-simulation centre in medical education at University Health Network. These institutions are part of the Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN), the unparalleled network of research, teaching and community hospitals and health-care centres that U of T anchors. The Temerty Foundation’s gift to U of T leverages its previous giving and expands its impact across the network.

“We were motivated to help the University of Toronto do what it does best – elevate quality health care and ultimately help as many Canadians as possible,” said James Temerty. “Our hope is that this gift will further Toronto’s and Canada’s global leadership in providing the highest quality health care and help to address the most pressing health challenges. We are honoured to be doing our part by partnering with the University.”

A Gift with Far-Reaching Impact

With investments allocated over a multi-year period, the Temerty family’s gift will have a tremendous impact on health science, health-care innovation and health education by:

  • Establishing a new Centre for AI Research and Education in Medicine, which will capitalize on U of T’s internationally recognized strengths in artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning—technologies that are revolutionizing diagnostics, drug discovery, surgery and patient care.
  • Launching a dedicated TAHSN Fund to support collaborations across the Toronto Academic Health Science Network – U of T’s partner research and teaching hospitals – with the potential for impact on clinical research and patient well-being in a wide range of areas, from neurodegenerative disease to cancer to suicide prevention.
  • Accelerating research with the potential for breakthroughs in fundamental, translational, clinical and rehabilitation science, such as the faculty’s pioneering work in regenerative medicine, personalized medicine and precision medicine.
  • Enhancing the Temerty Faculty’s innovation and entrepreneurship activities, to catalyze new ideas, and amplify Toronto’s growing reputation as a global hotspot for health innovation.
  • Training and retraining the leading doctors of the future with the skills required for 21st-century challenges, arming them with critical abilities in technology, personalized medicine, wellness, nutrition and clinical care, ultimately resulting in better patient care and improved access to medical education for Indigenous and other under-represented populations.
  • Establishing an Elder-in-Residence and a Circle of Elders, to support Elders working with the Temerty Faculty and ensuring Indigenous health education and leadership is supported in perpetuity.
  • Creating a Dean’s Strategic Initiatives and Innovation Fund to enable flexible and nimble funding for investments in star researchers, equipment and new initiatives as opportunities arise.
  • Creating a new state-of-the-art Faculty of Medicine building for education and research, prominently situated at the corner of King’s College Road and King’s College Circle.

The International Excellence of U of T Medicine

According to all respected international ranking systems, U of T is Canada’s top medical faculty and among the world’s best, standing in the company of Harvard, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, Oxford and Stanford. U of T’s groundbreaking discoveries over the past century have contributed greatly to human health and health care around the world. These include Frederick Banting and Charles Best’s discovery of insulin, which has saved the lives of millions of people suffering from diabetes; James Till and Ernest McCulloch’s discovery of stem cells, which gave birth to the field of regenerative medicine and the use of therapeutic stem cells and tissue engineering to regrow, repair or replace damaged cells, organs and tissues; and Lap-Chee Tsui’s discovery of the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis, which is playing a vital role in our understanding of this devastating disease.

This U of T tradition of innovation and pioneering research continues today in many areas, including precision medicine, where carefully designed therapeutics target disease at the molecular level, and personalized medicine, which draws on U of T’s leading strengths in AI, big data and genetics to treat and prevent disease based on an individual’s genes, environment and lifestyle.

With a single medical faculty standing at the centre of a network of outstanding research and teaching hospitals, U of T’s superb talent, interdisciplinary excellence and collaborative spirit continue to deliver solutions for our planet’s most pressing health challenges.

An Iconic New Hub for Medical Education and Research

The Temerty Foundation’s donation will help to provide a new state-of-the-art education and research building through the redevelopment of the faculty’s west building on the corner of King’s College Road and King’s College Circle, prominently situated in the heart of U of T’s St. George campus across from historic Convocation Hall.

In recognition of their generosity, the university will name this new development the James and Louise Temerty Building. It will serve as an important centrepiece for the Temerty Faculty of Medicine – a place where researchers, partners and students will gather to share ideas and consider answers to scientific, health and clinical questions. In keeping with U of T’s long-standing commitment to excellence in architecture, the building will be designed to enrich the campus and the student learning experience.

With laboratories equipped with the latest equipment for biomedical research, specially designed teaching labs and modular spaces, and unique spaces to spark collaboration and dialogue among students and researchers, the new building will help draw top talent, support medical discovery and innovation, and become a vibrant hub for public engagement and academic partnerships.

A Watershed Moment for Philanthropy in Canada

The Temerty Foundation’s $250-million gift to the University of Toronto is the single largest gift ever made in Canada and among the largest gifts made internationally to a faculty of medicine. 

“This is truly a landmark moment in the history of Canadian philanthropy,” said David Palmer, vice-president, advancement. “Their generosity, and our gratitude, will resound in us forever, and in the hearts of countless individuals across the world who will benefit from the advances in human health and health care enabled by this magnificent gift. Canada is fortunate indeed to have such remarkable individuals as Jim and Louise Temerty, so selflessly dedicated to improving the lives of others.”

In 1987, James Temerty founded Northland Power as one of Canada’s first and still pre-eminent developers, financiers, constructors, owners and operators of independent power facilities with long-term financial and physical sustainability and predictability in mind. The company was created with innovation and environmental stewardship at its core. Starting with the first large-scale biomass generation project in Canada, to high efficiency clean natural gas cogeneration, to early adoption of onshore wind and utility-scale solar generation, the company has led the way in Canada. It is now also a world-class leader in the burgeoning international offshore wind industry. The company takes to heart its social responsibilities by using its facilities and businesses to improve the communities in which it operates. Through this commitment, it has, to date, entered into partnerships with 10 Indigenous communities who have thereby obtained equity ownership in Northland’s projects in their traditional territories.

The Temertys are noted philanthropists and volunteers, and are both recipients of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to their community. Between them, James and Louise have five honorary doctorates, and through the Temerty Foundation, they have supported a number of endowments and scholarships in Canada and abroad. In addition to the health-care initiatives described earlier, they have established the Temerty Chair in Focused Ultrasound Research, and the Surgical Training Partnership with Ukraine at Sunnybrook Research Institute; the Temerty Foundation RGNEF Research Fund for ALS at Western University; and the Ukrainian Paediatric Fellowship Program at The Hospital for Sick Children. They are also donors to the Royal Ontario Museum, the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and Help Us Help. In 2008, James, with Louise’s encouragement, founded the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter (UJE), a multinational project that aims to build a sound foundation for future interaction among Ukrainians and Jews.

In 2008, James was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, in 2010, he was named Canada’s Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, and in 2015, he was honoured with Ukraine’s Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, which is the highest tribute Ukraine can confer to a foreign citizen who has not been a head of state. 

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Northwestern B.C. Indian day school to be demolished by Gitanyow First Nation




To Wanda Good and other members of Gitanyow, the demolition of the Kitwancool Indian Day School’s building this week represents a new chapter in their lives, healing the trauma they suffered during a racist education at the federally operated institution.

On Wednesday, Good conducted a small ceremony at the school she attended from 1972 to 1980, to call back what she believes are the spirits of students that may still linger inside the building after years of abuse.

“We believe that we are our ancestors reincarnated,” she said. “The part of the spirit of that child remains where there was a trauma.”

Located on the Gitanyow reserve, a remote Indigenous community about 260 kilometres northeast of Prince Rupert, B.C., Kitwancool is among the 700 Indian day schools operated across Canada from the 1860s to 1990s. The purpose of the schools was to assimilate Indigenous children by eradicating their native languages and cultures. These schools were publicly funded and often had religious affiliations.

Years of trauma in Kitwancool day school

Kitwancool day school was established by Prince Rupert’s Anglican Diocese of Caledonia in 1938, after a representative wrote to the federal Department of Indian Affairs that local First Nation people needed education in English. It was housed in a log cabin owned by Gitanyow chief Walter Derrick until its formal campus was built in 1949.

But the education that Good and hundreds of other Indigenous children received is more a torture than enlightenment.

“I did experience and witnessed lots of strapping, punching, pulling ears,” said Good. “We actually had music teachers that … would teach us these very racist songs that we would have to sing.”

“We were not allowed to speak our language in the classroom. The children were strapped every time someone said a Gitxsan word.”

In its letter to federal Department of Indian Affairs in 1937, Prince Rupert’s Anglican Diocese of Caledonia discussed the need to build Kitwancool Indian Day School to educate Indigenous children in English. (Library and Archives Canada)

The nightmare ended in 1986, when the school was closed and students were transferred to the Gitanyow Independent School that currently provides kindergarten to Grade 6 education to about 60 children.

The day school premises were repurposed into the Gitanyow Band’s administration office before turning into a gas station several years ago. In light of the building’s disrepair, the band council decided to demolish it and has plans to erect a new gas bar at the same location.

Good said many former students of Kitwancool day school have applied for the federal Indian Day School Settlement program, which offers compensation between $10,000 and $200,000 based on abuse suffered. 

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Students left out of a vision for a “Stronger and More Resilient Canada”




OTTAWA, ON, Sept. 23, 2020 /CNW/ – Students are disappointed by the Federal Government’s continued lack of support, following today’s Speech from the Throne. Today’s speech promised ambitious job creation strategies, which will include scaling up the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, and helping workers receive education and accreditation. The speech made no mention of investments into post-secondary education or increased support for students – both of which are crucial for this vision.

After a summer of precarious working conditions, a lack of financial support for international students and recent graduates, and the cancelled Canada Student Service Grant, students hoped that this new parliamentary session would include increased support for post-secondary education. “Throughout the pandemic, the Federal Government has failed to adequately support students. International students and recent graduates were excluded from support plans, and those that were eligible didn’t receive enough” said Nicole Brayiannis, Canadian Federation of Students Deputy Chairperson. Instead of bridging these gaps, today’s Throne Speech emphasized a focus on job training and creation. Brayiannis added, “Students want to remind the Trudeau Government that investing in post-secondary education and supporting students who are already receiving training is essential to the goals that were identified today.”

Since March, students have been calling on the Federal Government to provide adequate financial support to ensure they can afford to continue their education amidst the current crisis. “The Trudeau Government needs to stop and listen to what students are asking for,” said Sofia Descalzi, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Students want the same support as everyone else to help them through this pandemic. Instead, they’ve been met with patchwork programs.”

Following the cancellation of the failed Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), students have called for CSSG funds to be reallocated into a four-month extension of the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), an increase of the CESB to $2000 per month, and the expansion of CESB eligibility to include international students and recent graduates. Most recently, students have endorsed Motion 46, to convert the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) into a guaranteed livable basic income.

Students assert that investments into post-secondary education are crucial for a just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Current students and recent graduates need adequate financial support right now. At the same time, the Federal Government should begin to move towards investing in a post-secondary education system that is fully publicly funded. By ensuring that everyone can access the post-secondary education they need, we all stand a better chance at rebuilding the economy.

The Canadian Federation of Students unites over 500,000 college and university students and more than 60 students’ unions throughout the country.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students

For further information: Melissa Palermo, Staff: [email protected] or 416-529-8205; Sofia Descalzi, Chairperson: [email protected] or 613-232-7394; Nicole Brayiannis, National Deputy Chairperson: [email protected] or 289-200-2375

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