Following formal apology, Commission strikes fund for Black medical students

Group sends apology letters to families of those impacted by the 1918 ban on Black medical students

Commission sends out apology letters, sets up fund.
Less than a year after a PhD candidate alerted the University to a 1918 policy that banned Black medical students from enrolling, a commission to address the historic wrong is taking steps to reconcile the damage.
At the University’s April Senate meeting, Principal Daniel Woolf and Richard Reznick, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, issued a formal apology on behalf of Queen’s for a century-old policy which prohibited Black students from enrolling in the School of Medicine.
As part of the ongoing process to reconcile the colour ban’s harmful effects, the Faculty of Health Sciences established a Commission on Black Medical Students (CBMS) to generate recommendations for how the University should extend its apology beyond a symbolic gesture.
Edward Thomas, who’s now the associate director of the McDonald Institute, was the one who first brought attention to the policy that initiated the ban.
With his help, the Commission generated a list of families whose relatives were affected by the ban. After contacting these families, the Commission began to send out letters of apologies.
The first letter was delivered to the family of Dr. Ethelbert Bartholomew, a Black student whose medical career was halted abruptly by the ban in 1918.
The Commission has also developed curricular content designed to educate medical students about the historic and continuing effects of the ban.
In an email to The Journal, Dr. Mala Joneja, chair of the Commission, confirmed this process has been completed and the curricular content will be introduced this fall.
The Commission will also provide financial support for Black medical students.
According to Joneja, the Medicine Admission Award for Black Canadians has been fully established. Financial support up to $50,000 will be available to students admitted in 2019.
Financial support from this fund will be awarded to Black Canadians on the basis of demonstrated financial need and academic achievement.
The Commission additionally promised to establish a permanent exhibit in the School of Medicine’s atrium to depict the history of the ban and its effects.
Joneja said that preparation for the exhibit would be ongoing over the 2019-2020 academic year.
“The exhibit is important as it will be a display of remembrance and acknowledgement of the students affected by the ban, and will serve as an additional touchpoint for our current students who will now learn about the ban as part of their curriculum,” she said.
Joneja is hopeful the Commission’s work will help acknowledge this and other racist parts of the University’s history, by educating future students and creating a more supportive and inclusive environment for medical educations.
“If the Commission is successful, the future of Queen’s School of Medicine will be that of increased diversity and an inclusive learning environment, with an increased number of Black medical students and faculty,” she said.

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