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Feb. 1, 2024

Honouring Black History Month 2024

Black History Month

Each February, as part of Black History Month, RNAO celebrates the achievements and contributions of Black nurses. We look back at accomplishments over the past year, and forward to new developments that will help tackle anti-Black racism and discrimination within the nursing profession. 

A beacon of inspiration, the Black Nurses Leading Change Interest Group (BNLC) was recognized as RNAO's 2023 Interest Group of the Year. This accolade is a testament to their unwavering commitment to nursing and their active engagement in advocating for health equity initiatives. During the past year, the interest group welcomed Lori Zozzolotto as their chair and held its inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM) featuring guest speaker Shelly Philip LaForest. 

BNLC and RNAO have continued to build on the recommendations outlined in the groundbreaking report released in 2022 by RNAO’s Black Nurses Task Force. Building on one of the task force’s recommendations, work is underway on a trailblazing RNAO best practice guideline (BPG) – Addressing Anti-Black Racism in Nursing, co-chaired by the esteemed Dr. Bukola Salami and Dr. LaRon Nelson. This 19-member expert panel, comprising Black nursing professionals and students, is poised to make substantial contributions to shaping the future of Black nurses in academic and health organizations. 

Taking proactive steps on other recommendations from the BNTF report, BNLC proposed and secured  approval on two member resolutions at RNAO’s 2023 AGM. These resolutions mandate RNAO to advocate for greater representation of Black nurse practitioners in Ontario and to advocate for mandatory anti-Black racism education for all health professionals.

In a powerful collaboration, BNLC joined forces with the Indigenous Nurses and Allies Interest Group and the Rainbow Nursing Interest Group, forming RNAO’s Health Equity Consortium. They aim to strengthen collective action and outcomes in collaboration with RNAO. Weaving together the narratives of nurses who identify as Black, Indigenous and/or 2SLGBTQI+ – including each group’s unique history and distinct roles – the consortium illuminates the profound experiences of discrimination that call for collective responses. While the uniqueness of each of these nursing communities was already well established, their collective power holds tremendous potential to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) within the nursing profession and the health system.

To date, the consortium proposed and received unanimous approval by RNAO’s Board of Directors for the establishment of the Leadership in Health Equity award to celebrate three nurses from equity-seeking groups who have successfully championed social justice and advocated for EDI. Future work will include advising RNAO on establishing EDI-focused mentorship programs, and on supporting the development of future equity-related BPGs.

The consortium’s work is featured in RNAO’s In Focus webpages that outline RNAO’s commitment and work to dismantle systemic racism and all forms of discrimination. 

If you’re interested in becoming a member of BNLC, please visit Follow BNLC on X (formerly Twitter) to stay updated on its activities and upcoming events.

Join us in honouring Black History Month by sharing tweets with “#BlackHistoryMonth” and tagging @RNAO.