Faculty of Health Sciences prioritizes Equity, Diversity & Inclusion in new initiatives

FHS designates 10 spaces for Black and Indigenous students, allocates funding for EDI initiatives

The FHS EDI Fund comes from the Carrick Family, who have pledged $200,000 to the initiative over the next two years.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

In an effort to prioritize space and opportunities for marginalized communities at Queen’s, the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) has launched a series of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Initiatives

These initiatives include the Dean’s Action Table on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (DAT-EDI), the opening of the FHS Office of EDI, and the creation of the FHS EDI Fund. 

According to Dr. Jane Philpott, dean of the FHS, the DAT-EDI is composed of an executive table with 15 members from the leadership team, leads from each of the seven working groups within the commission, and learner representatives.   

The seven working groups include the Outreach and Summer Programs, EDI for Admissions, EDI Curriculum across the FHS, Recruitment, Retention and Mentorship, Professional Development, Research and EDI, and Culture and Community. Leads are expected to report to the executive table on a regular basis. 

Philpott explained the groups are made up of over 150 faculty, staff, learners, and alumni from both within and outside of the FHS.

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“Each group has been tasked with conducting an environmental scan and a study of best practices to develop recommendations and metrics that will be used to develop an FHS EDI Strategic Plan,” Philpott wrote in a statement to The Journal. 

“Since the DAT-EDI is a volunteer-based initiative led by the FHS community, any proposed recommendations will be developed through a consultative and consensus-building process.” 

According to Philpott, the FHS EDI Office staff is made up of four staff members and three faculty leads from all three schools in the FHS including Mala Joneja from the School of Medicine, Mary Smith from the School of Nursing, and Vincent DePaul from the School of Rehabilitation Therapy.

Cortney Clark, Indigenous access and recruitment coordinator, will continue to work on student recruitment and providing support and mentorship to current Indigenous students in the Faculty.

Celina Caesar-Chavannes, senior advisor on EDI Initiatives, lends expertise in strategy and transformational leadership in the health sciences field with a focus on equity and diversity. She will lead the recruitment and retention of Black learners in FHS programs. 

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Wendy Phillips, elder-in-residence for the FHS, will work partly with the FHS Office of EDI while also serving in her role as the Elder-in-Residence for the Queen’s University Indigenous Initiatives Office. 

Giselle Valarezo, interim EDI project manager, will administer the work of the DAT-EDI executive and seven working groups, engage in grant writing to support the FHS EDI Fund, and manage the development and implementation of FHS EDI Initiatives. 

Philpott also pointed to other members of the DAT-EDI executive, including an Indigenous Learner representative, a Black Learner representative, and an LGBTQ+ Learner representative. 

Philpott added that nearly 70 learners from all three schools in the FHS are spread across the seven DAT-EDI working groups, making up more than a third of the membership in the DAT-EDI. 

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“The diversity of underrepresented learners participating the DAT-EDI working groups will ensure that they become a critical part of the development and implementation of FHS EDI Initiatives,” Philpott wrote. 

The FHS EDI Fund is supported by the Carrick Family, who have pledged $200,000 to the initiative over the next two years. According to Philpott, funds will be disbursed in consultation with the DAT-EDI executive. 

The funds will be used to launch and maintain EDI programming in the FHS, including the creation of new pathways designed to increase the enrolment of underrepresented groups, the development of outreach health education programs and mentorship opportunities for underrepresented communities, and the decolonization and diversification of curriculum. 

Additional allocation of funds will result in skills-based training in cultural humility, conflict resolution, human rights, anti-colonialism, anti-racism, and anti-oppression, as well as program facilitation, research grant opportunities, professional development training, and resource development for underrepresented faculty and staff.  

“The DAT-EDI is the result of a vision to create a fairer and more inclusive environment in the [FHS] and a response to faculty, staff and learners’ calls to address structural biases present across our schools,” Philpott wrote. 

Regarding the allotment of the 10 seats in the QuARMS pathway to Indigenous and Black students, Philpott explained the announcement was released ahead of the EDI initiative in order to align with the Ontario Universities’ admissions timeline and to facilitate recruitment for Fall 2021. 

“[However], it was implemented in tandem with the establishment of the faculty’s EDI initiatives.” 

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