Systemic racism impacts the people we serve, the research we fund, and the experiences of employees, volunteers and supporters of the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS). There are deep disparities in cancer risk, cancer care and in cancer research, with life and death consequences that cannot be ignored.
Addressing this requires focused attention by governments, health partners and charitable organizations like ours. We must do more to understand the needs of underserved communities, including the Black community. We must remove barriers so that everyone can access the care, support and information they need. We have a responsibility to question our approaches.
We acknowledge the experience of the Black community and, as many other organizations have expressed, we know that positive change begins with listening, learning and meaningful action. We have created a plan for some first steps. This will be the beginning of an important journey and something that we are committed to not only in this moment of global action but well into the future.
As one of our first steps on this journey, we will form a Diversity & Inclusion Council of CCS staff. The mandate of this council will be to examine CCS from an inclusion perspective. We will empower this committee to bring their personal perspectives to the table, take a leadership role, and shape the future through the lens of inclusion.
We will be conducting a staff survey to better understand diversity and inclusion within our workplace and to understand racial issues that need to be addressed inside of CCS. We will provide training for staff on diversity, inclusion and reconciliation.
We will resume the important work begun by Prostate Cancer Canada’s Black Advisory Council which includes cancer patients, public servants, health professionals and community leaders from across Canada. The goals of this council include improving Black community members’ awareness of cancer risk and promoting prostate cancer testing for early detection through the development of health information and awareness campaigns targeting Black community members. This work has been on hold since the pandemic began.
Working with our Advisory Council on Research, we will expand CCS’s Inclusive Excellence in Research Action Plan to include race and other equity factors.
We will share with staff the Underserved Roadmap that is in development by our Mission Team. This provides a framework from which we can better understand and focus our mission programming to underserved populations, including those who experience systemic barriers in the healthcare system.
Everyone should be informed on the critical issues that face the Black community and we are sharing educational resources with our staff. We can all be a part of this positive change.
Together, we stand with the Black community.