June 10, 2024

Research conducted over two years ago by Dr. Jacob Alhassan, a member of the USask College of Medicine, and published this month in the Canadian Medical Association Journal outlines systemic racism at Canadian medical schools. It is unacceptable that members of any medical school in Canada experience racism and discrimination.

In the two years since Alhassan’s research was conducted, we have taken and continue to take significant steps to address the concerns and ensure that the University of Saskatchewan (USask) College of Medicine faculty, staff and students feel safe, respected and valued.  In 2022-23 the College of Medicine worked with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on an independent investigation and public report to better address issues of systemic inequity. We take an evidence-informed approach to university planning, appreciating new insights provided through research. The SHRC report, along with Dr. Alhassan’s article, adds to research about university teaching, learning, and experience which informs university planning and actions. We remain committed to addressing these issues to become a more inclusive college. 

Examples of this work include: providing anti-racist education for learners, staff and faculty; creating a new Black Medical Students Admissions Pathway for the 2025/2026 application cycle; and evolving curricula to be more culturally inclusive. Our college’s equity, diversity and inclusion committee, led by the Office of the Vice-Dean Indigenous health Dr. Janet Tootoosis and chaired by Dr. Adeyemi Laosebikan, is carrying through on the recommendations of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission report and is working to create a meaningful venue for open dialogue with Black, Indigenous, and other non-white learners, staff, and faculty. 

In November 2021, USask signed the Scarborough Charter along with partner institutions across Canada, signaling the university’s commitment to redressing anti-Black racism and to fostering Black inclusion. To amplify this important work, a new Provost’s Advisory Committee including members of the College of Medicine was created to provide advice on the commitments to action outlined in the Scarborough Charter.  

We know there is much more to do, and USask and its College of Medicine are committed to being a leader in advancing equity, diversity and inclusion. USask recently released Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Framework for Action, and the deybwewin| taapwaywin| tapwewin policy is part of USask’s larger efforts to embrace reconciliation in the USask community. We acknowledge and welcome diverse opinions and choices, but we will not tolerate discriminatory or harassing behaviour in our learning, working and research environments.     

We work actively and confidentially to support and ensure the safety and well-being of any individual bringing forward matters of discrimination, harassment or racism. Due to reasons of privacy, no comment can be made on individual matters. We have a response team that is quickly available to work with members of our campus community who are in crisis and who are open to these supports.  

- Dr. Marilyn Baetz, Interim Dean, USask College of Medicine