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Statement on Anti-Black Racism

Somerset West Community Health Centre stands alongside the Black community, and is committed to fighting anti-Black Racism and the systemic oppression of African Caribbean Black (ACB) people.

Black communities have been fighting for support and solidarity from non-Black people long before the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade and Regis Korchinski-Paquet. Black communities needed this for Michael Brown, for Trayvon Martin, for Sandra Bland, for Tamir Rice, for Aiyana Jones, for Abdirahman Abdi.

We acknowledge that anti-Black racism in Canada and the United States is a longstanding systemic issue. The heightened attention to anti-Black racism across North America is shedding more light on the realities that Black people experience. The effects of slavery and colonialism are seen in the ongoing violence against Black people in this country, the United States, and globally.

Anti-Black racism is a public health crisis - the Black community is disproportionally bearing the impact of COVID-19. We also acknowledge that we are making this statement during Pride month, and it is important to acknowledge that Pride was led historically by Black trans women. 

As a Centre, we are calling on the following actions:

  • We urge all levels of government to implement anti-racism policies. This includes ensuring the collection of race-based and sociodemographic data to identify impact and inform interventions.

  • We urge the City of Ottawa to increase investments in social services as part of their overall crime prevention strategy as a way of promoting resilience and reducing violence in our communities.

  • We urge continued conversations that develop initiatives for collective action.

  • We urge non-Black allies to recognize how the constant collective grieving due to anti-Black violence is exhausting, and overwhelming for people within Black communities. We are compiling a list of resources for non-Black people looking to learn more about how they can contribute to being the allies that our ACB communities need and deserve.

During this especially heavy time, we continue to provide education, healing, wellness, and community support for ACB communities. This includes our current virtual seminars on the impacts of COVID-19 on ACB communities, and an Anti-Racism Project team led by peers within our catchment area. We strongly value the leadership of our Black colleagues who are firmly dedicated to the health and wellness of ACB communities here in Ottawa.

And lastly, as we always have, we would like to state that BLACK LIVES MATTER.


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