Somerset West Community Health Centre has a long-standing commitment to anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice. As such, we were saddened to hear of the recent incident of carding of a young black student at the University of Ottawa. Unfortunately, this incident is not isolated to just one campus or to just one part of the city. In fact, in the recent anti-racism conversations we hosted in our catchment area, we heard stories of racism, discrimination and profiling from residents of our West Centretown and Hintonburg neighborhoods.
As a community health centre, we know health problems are not just medical or biological—they are caused by social conditions that affect access to resources and power, and have an impact on individual and community well-being. As a community stakeholder committed to improving the well-being of Ottawa residents, we stand ready to support initiatives that make Ottawa a more inclusive and safer city for all, and we invite our colleagues in institutions across the City to join us in this work. We believe Councillor Rawlson King’s recommendation for an anti-Black racism secretariat with the city is the first step towards addressing these issues.