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Jan 29, 2024
Each February CMHA Waterloo Wellington recognizes Black History Month as a time of reflection, celebration and learning. Black History Month is an opportunity to honour and celebrate the successes and contributions of Black Canadians, as well as to reflect on the different forms of challenges that they face. These can include individual and systemic forms of racism that impact one’s experiences and ability to participate in sociocultural, economic, and political systems. To learn more about Black History in the Canadian context, please visit: February is Black History Month – Canada.ca
Black history in Canada dates to the early 1600’s when the first recorded Black person, Mathieu Da Costa, set foot on what is now Canadian land. Black Canadians and their communities have shaped Canada’s heritage in several ways. The month of February is an opportunity to learn more about these important contributions and to applaud the continued achievements of Black Canadians in our communities.
Alongside this recognition, it’s also important to acknowledge the ongoing long-standing health inequities that research has shown to disproportionately impact communities of colour, specifically Black ones. Issues such as racism, sexism, inadequate housing, and other social determinants of health can serve as barriers for Black Canadians to be able to access mental health and addictions support. Recent studies have also shown the many ways in which experiences with racism can hurt a person’s chances at stable employment, a better income, and improved mental health.
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada:
Challenging biases and educating oneself on Black history can help build a more informed stance on the inequities Black Canadians both have and continue to face. Incorporating culturally informed care leads to greater health service use and outcomes. Unconscious bias and cultural competency training as well as having Black representation integrated into the development of mental health and addictions programs and advocacy work also helps support better health outcomes. CMHA Waterloo Wellington provides mandatory Unconscious Bias training for all staff.
For more information on these health inequities, visit the Black Health Alliance website.
Interested in learning more for Black History Month? Check out these provincial organizations.