Black nurses and RNAO

On this page: Our journey |Members leading change | RNAO policy | Partnerships and engagementsCapacity building | RNAO media | Staff leading change

Our journey: Black nurses and RNAO

Black people are not guaranteed protection from systemic racism in our society even though Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 and the Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977 protect people of all races.

George Floyd’s murder in June 2020 reignited the global Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement to confront white supremacy and violence against Black people and communities. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Dr. Doris Grinspun, the BLM movement prompted the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) to reflect and take immediate action to confront systemic racism within the nursing profession. RNAO released a statement on June 3, 2020 addressing the murder of George Floyd and expressing solidarity to condemn anti-Black racism, oppression and discrimination, adding a call to action to “put a spotlight on injustice, and mobilize to enact real change.” 

Black nurses in Ontario have spoken openly with RNAO about their lived experiences with racism in all health-care sectors and academic institutions. Anti-Black racism remains deeply ingrained in the health system and its structures (e.g. work place settings, academic institutions, professional associations etc.). RNAO vows to address the systemic racism that exists within the nursing profession, as well as all health-care sectors and academic settings. The association and its members acknowledge the grief, distress and trauma brought on by centuries of historical injustices and discrimination experienced by Black nurses, their loved ones and their communities. RNAO is taking action in partnership with its Black members, colleagues and their allies to mobilize change. 
 

 

"(We) unequivocally condemn racism, oppression and discrimination in all forms."

RNAO

 

 

RNAO’s June 2020 statement

RNAO issued a statement and media release in June 2020:

RNAO mourns the death of George Floyd and all those who have succumbed to anti-Black racism and violence.

RNAO

 

RNAO stands together with those who continue to suffer the scourge of anti-Black racism and discrimination. RNAO unequivocally condemns racism, oppression and discrimination in all forms. In light of recent atrocities in the United States, Canada and around the world, we stand in solidarity with the loved ones of those who have suffered at the hands of law enforcement and those who experience gross inequities because of the colour of their skin. 

READ FULL STATEMENT       READ MEDIA RELEASE

 

Members leading change

RNAO has had three Black presidents in its history: Dr. Jocelyn Hezekiah from 1979-1981, the late Dr. Joan Lesmond who led RNAO from 2004-2006 and Dr. Angela Cooper Brathwaite from 2018-2020. Dr. Claudette Holloway became RNAO’s president-elect in June 2021.

 

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Jocelyn Hezekiah RNAO President

Dr. Jocelyn Hezekiah

RNAO marked a milestone when Dr. Jocelyn Hezekiah, a leader in nursing education, became RNAO’s first Black president. In 2003, she authored Breaking the Glass Ceiling: The Stories of Three Caribbean Nurses, a book showcasing how these nursing leaders paved the way for Black nurses to be recognized in their own right in the Caribbean and internationally.

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Joan_Lesmond RNAO president

Dr. Joan Lesmond

The late Dr. Joan Lesmond launched the Embracing Diversity Project during the first year of her RNAO presidency, which built on policies that give nurses of all cultural background the opportunity to participate fully in the nursing profession.

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Angela Cooper Brathwaite RNAO president

Dr. Angela Cooper Brathwaite

Immediate-Past President Dr. Angela Cooper Brathwaite has published numerous research studies on cultural competence in nursing, and now co-chairs RNAO's Black Nurses Task Force to tackle anti-Black racism and discrimination in the nursing profession.

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Claudette Holloway RNAO President

Dr. Claudette Holloway

Dr. Claudette Holloway is passionate about promoting the nursing profession, decreasing, and eliminating anti-Black racism and all forms of racism and discrimination in nursing and the health-care system, advancing health programs for the most vulnerable, and facilitating an equity lens approach to advance nursing and health care.

 

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BNTF_BlackNurses at RNAO.png

 

Task force co-chairs

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Angela Brathwaite

Dr. Angela Cooper Brathwaite
RN, BN, MN, Phd

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Corsita Garraway

Corsita Garraway
BScN, MScN-FNP RN(EC)

 

RNAO announces a Black Nurses Task Force

In response to the widespread systemic racism that exists within the nursing profession, RNAO announced in June 2020 the formation of its Black Nurses Task Force. It was formed to move beyond solidarity and interrupt complicity to promote transformational change. 

The task force’s mandate is to reduce anti-Black racism and discrimination within the nursing profession – its organizations, regulatory body, associations and broader health system – targeted towards and experienced by Black nurses. 
 

"...we must put a spotlight on injustice, and mobilize to enact real change.

Dr. Doris Grinspun.

RNAO CEO

 

Our COVID-19 webinar series focused on the topic of Let’s Talk about Racism on June 15, 2020, as a group of passionate nurses engaged in meaningful conversations about experiences of and solutions to tackle systemic racism in Ontario and within our health system.

RNAO announced in June 2020 the search for panelist members striving to reach the mandate of actively tackle anti-Black racism within the nursing profession. The initial draft terms of reference were specified here.


 

 

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RNAO Interest Group Black Nurses Leading Change

Black Nurses Leading Change (BNLC) interest group

BNLC supports the work of RNAO’s Black Nurses Task Force, and continues to inform RNAO and its members on issues affecting Black nurses and nursing students. BNLC will advocate for anti-racism, offer mentorship, provide continuing education and a safe space for Black nurses and nursing students – and their allies – to network and interact with each other. RNAO announces new interest group: Black Nurses Leading Change (BNLC) (July 28, 2021)

Interest group co-chairs

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Daria

Daria Adèle Jüudi-Hope,
BNSc, MPH 

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Dania

 Dania Versailles,
RN, MScN, CPMHN(C)

 

Become an RNAO member to join this interest group

JOIN NOW

 

RNAO's partnerships and engagement

RNAO commemorates Emancipation Day
RNAO commemorates Emancipation Day to honour the lives and legacy of the Black Canadians who fought enslavement.
RNAO celebrates Black History Month
February marks Black History Month – a month dedicated to honouring our Black colleagues, their past and the steps toward allyship.
RNAO observes Black August
RNAO observes Black August, a month to reflect and learn about the legacies of Black revolutionaries and honour the lives of those who were killed or imprisoned for simply defending their freedoms.

RNAO policy

RNAO's position on racism 

RNAO values diversity and recognizes that discrimination of any kind threatens the health of individuals, communities and nations as well as the provision of quality health care. It is only by working to eliminate this injustice that we, as registered nurses, are achieving our goal of speaking out for health and for nursing.

Read more

Letter to the College of Nurses of Ontario re: race-based and Indigenous identity data – advancing racial equity in nursing

Racism is a determinant of health that plays a key role in generating and reinforcing health and social inequities among Canadians. Racism is also entrenched in the history of nursing in our country and continues to have a devastating impact on the lived experiences of racialized nurses. 

Read more

Capacity building

Let’s Talk About Anti-Black Racism and Discrimination in Nursing

This is a monthly webinar series that started in May 2020. It was designed for members of the public interested in receiving updates on RNAO’s Black Nurses task force and to engage them in meaningful conversations that will inform the work of the task force. The webinar series, including archives of video recording, presentations and documents, can be found in our Webinar Library

Join our next webinar 

 

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RNAO's Black Nurses Task Force Webinar

RNAO and Black Nurses in the media

Traditional media 

Toronto Star
Told they didn’t ‘fit the look,’ called the n-word: Now, the Black Nurses Task Force at RNAO helps deconstruct racism in nursing
University Affairs
Canada’s nursing programs address racial prejudice in the profession
CBC News
Windsor nurses voice concerns at provincial nursing association meeting

Social media

Get involved. Use the following hashtags on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to participate in the ongoing dialogue: 

#BlackLivesMatter #BlackNursing #AntiBlackRacism #AntiBlackDiscrimination

Tweet URL
Tweet URL

RNAO staff leading change

RNAO Black Colleagues Task Force 

In June of 2020, Dr. Doris Grinspun, RNAO's CEO launched the Black Colleagues Task Force (separate from the Black Nurses Task Force) to ensure strong support for RNAO employees who identify as Black. Its mandate is to draw from the experiences of Black colleagues and address anti-Black racism and discrimination within the workplace. Co-chaired by Peta-Gay Batten, executive assistant to Dr. Grinspun, and human resources manager Dolare Seran, the task force is comprised of staff who identify as Black.

The purpose is to ensure an environment that is free from racism, prejudice, discrimination and harassment. They meet monthly to examine past incidents of racism and discuss how they were addressed. They identify areas for intervention and seek permanent results by providing recommendations for RNAO’s internal human resources and operational policies and practices. The task force also hopes to educate staff about racism and micro-aggressions and strengthen best practices for safe spaces to work without fear of discrimination.
 

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RNAO Black colleagues Task force

 

 

 

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