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Sept. 29 SESSION POSTPONED: Fall online learning series to deepen understanding of EDI issues in medicine

The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA), in collaboration with the Division of Social Accountability, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, will offer a series of learning sessions this fall intended to deepen awareness of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) issues.

Four one-hour presentations, accessible online, will be delivered by Dr. Manuela Valle-Castro, director of the Division of Social Accountability. The series is part of the work of the SMA’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Each session is intended as a standalone session.

The sessions are free of charge and are titled (dates, times, and additional info follow below):

1. Introduction to Unconscious Racial Bias: No one is racist, yet we have racism
2. Introduction to Racial Microaggressions: Why are they so offended anyway?
3. Introduction to Intersectionality, Power, and Oppression: Unpacking our identities
4. Introduction to Systemic Change: How to use your privilege in allyship

“These sessions will help build the knowledge needed to challenge the problems of racism in our profession,” said Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, a member of the EDI Committee. “It’s only when we truly understand a problem that we can begin to address it. The sessions will lead to a better understanding of the issues that pose barriers and create biased and unsafe workplaces.”

Dr. Ndubuka added the SMA has heard from physicians that they want hands-on learning opportunities to better engage with EDI issues. “I am certain that checking our own biases and learning about what we me may be doing and thinking, perhaps unconsciously, will help to show physicians ways to combat racism and issues relating to equity and inclusion.

“I hope members can make time for one or more of the sessions,” Dr. Ndubuka continued. “Dr. Valle-Castro is knowledgeable and passionate about teaching this material. She is committed to these principles and her energy helps drive home learning.”

Dr. Valle-Castro gave a presentation to the 2021 Spring Representative Assembly titled: “Moving on with systemic change: How can anti-racism enhance our personal and professional development?” Originally from Chile, she has Mestiza (Spanish-Italian and Afro-Indigenous) background, and holds a PhD in gender, race, sexuality and social justice from the University of British Columbia.

The four sessions are part of a series of educational opportunities the SMA is organizing in conjunction with the EDI Committee, which was created by the SMA Board of Directors following the 2020 Spring RA. Delegates at that RA made a commitment to tackling racism within the profession, and members’ experiences with racism in the health system, following protests against racism around the world.

The EDI Committee believed it was important to deepen its understanding and hired an external contractor to do in-depth interviews with five Saskatchewan physicians who have experience with discrimination. Their stories were shared with delegates at the 2021 Fall RA, as were specific actions the SMA can take to create a more supportive working environment for all physicians. In an online survey, RA delegates shared their perspectives on racism and offered suggestions on how the SMA should address the issue.

SMA staff are developing a dedicated webpage related to equity, diversity, and inclusion issues and resources, and organized an online talk by incoming Canadian Medical Association president Dr. Alika Lafontaine on June 7, 2022, titled Hostility in Healthcare: Racism, Working Environments and Culture Change. Dr. Lafontaine was raised in southern Saskatchewan and is of mixed Indigenous ancestry of Métis, Anishinaabe, Cree and Pacific Islander.

Dr. Valle-Castro’s four sessions build on the work done by the EDI Committee to date. Details of the four online sessions are as follows:

Session 1: Introduction to Unconscious Racial Bias: No one is racist, yet we have racism

Racism and other forms of discrimination are learned and internalized attitudes and behaviours. In response, anti-racist pedagogy requires a process of unlearning. This is a continuous journey that requires openness, commitment, and a willingness to embrace discomfort as we challenge long-held beliefs.

Please check back for a rescheduled date.


Session 2: Introduction to Racial Microaggressions: Why are they so offended anyway?
Thursday, Oct 20, 2022
7-8:30 p.m.

Microaggressions are subtle, insidious comments and attitudes that maintain systems of oppression and superiority. Even those well-intentioned may be participating in microaggressions in unintentional ways. Building a culture of safety requires awareness of how our intention and behavior can impact others.


Session 3: Introduction to Intersectionality, Power, and Oppression: Unpacking our identities
Thursday, Nov 24, 2022
7-8:30 p.m.

Intersectionality is a way to examine how both our power and oppression are impacted by the overlapping or interaction of our social locations such as “race”/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, disability/ability, religion, and migration status. This session will unpack the concepts of intersectionality to better understand our power and privilege to make us better allies.


Session 4: Introduction to Systemic Change: How to use your privilege in allyship
Thursday, Dec 8, 2022
7-8:30 p.m.

Allyship is standing up for, and putting into action, social justice. It is about transferring the benefits of privilege and ensuring the inclusion and human rights of all. Allyship is a critical part of achieving anti-racism and anti-oppression in work and education.

The Saskatchewan Medical Association appreciates funding from Scotiabank, MD Financial and the Canadian Medical Association as part of their Physician Wellness+ Initiative to address the urgent, ongoing health and wellness needs of our medical community. Sessions are presented by the Physician Wellness+ Initiative.


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