Message from the Minister of Health – Black History Month 2022

Statement

February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day

February 1, 2022

Every February, people in Canada are invited to take part in Black History Month to honour, celebrate, and learn about the contributions of Black Canadians and their communities.

For hundreds of years—even before Canada became a country—Black communities have made important contributions to our social fabric and to building the country that we know today.

Individual names stand out: Viola Desmond, the Honourable Lincoln Alexander, and Portia White, to name just a few. We must also acknowledge all Black Canadians who have helped pave the way in our healthcare system, including Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott, first Canadian-born Black doctor and Bernice Redmon, the first Black nurse to practise in Canada's public health system.

As the pandemic has further amplified, anti-Black racism continues to drive health inequities in Canada. This type of racism, rooted in an unjust distribution of power, resources, and opportunities that discriminate against Black communities, continues to fuel poor health outcomes for racialized Canadians.

We also know that discrimination against Black communities is deeply entrenched and normalized in our institutions, policies, and practices and is often invisible to those who do not feel its effects. This must change and as a government, we must and will do better.

The Government of Canada recognizes the significant and unique challenges faced by Black Canadians. To address this, the Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) launched Promoting Health Equity: Mental Health for Black Canadians Fund. Through the Fund, PHAC will partner with community-based organizations, researchers, and others in Black communities to generate culturally focused programs and interventions that address mental health and its determinants for Black Canadians.

Additionally, through the Intersectional Action Fund, PHAC is supporting communities to build capacity for intersectoral action on the social determinants of health, the conditions into which we are born, live, grow, work, play, and age. This is another means step to improve population health and reduce health inequities.

As the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first Black woman to serve as a federal Minister of the Crown and Member of Parliament, once said: "Black history is Canadian history."

Because Black history has shaped and continues to shape our society, we all have a responsibility to recognize its place in Canadian history and take the steps that keep us moving toward a more just society for all.

This Black History Month and every day, I encourage you to learn more about the health and social inequities that Black communities continue to face, as well as reflect on the individual actions that you can take to tackle racism and discrimination wherever you see it.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.

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