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Healthcare Change Makers

Jul 26, 2021

For this special series, Voices Lifting the Community, HIROC is partnering with the Alliance for Healthier Communities to highlight the work of several of the presenters at their online primary healthcare conference in June.

Today we’re talking with Cheryl Prescod, Executive Director at Black Creek Community Health Centre and member of the Alliance Black Health Committee, and Joelleann Forbes, Mental Health Therapist at Women's Health in Women's Hands Community Health Centre.

Early data of the COVID-19 crisis, broken down by race, revealed that COVID-19 disproportionately affected Black, racialized, and poor communities at much higher rates than the general population. This comes as no surprise to Cheryl and Joelleann who in their respective jobs and communities, see the consequences every day of racism and discrimination on Black women, and how it creates unequal access to treatment.

If there is an upside, the women are hopeful that the inequities and discrimination exposed by the pandemic lead to a permanent shift in attitudes – and activate the development of policies and programs tailored to Black communities.



“For us, care is not only about having access to seeing a healthcare provider, but enabling folks to have the tools to access that care.” – CP

“As a mental health therapist, witnessing how everyone has different boats and tools for how they’re coping – some people don’t have a boat at all, they might only have a piece of wood floating in the ocean.” - JF

“For folks who were here alone in a new country and having to deal with settlement issues and perhaps not even knowing the language, it was really a double or triple pandemic because they were experiencing so much loss.” - CP

“All this data that has been collected, and by that I mean the narratives and stories that our community members are sharing, cannot just disappear. It has to inform better policies in the future.” – JF

“These stories tell us that people want to see themselves represented in the healthcare they’re receiving. Even in the vaccination drive, this is an important piece and it will increase trust in our system.” - CP

“It’s always important to recognize that the Black identity is not a monolith. This means the experiences of the Black population should not be reduced to a single narrative.” – JF

“It’s not enough for us to say “I’m not a racist,” – we have to be equally invested in being anti-racist and that is an actionable thing.” – CP

“Our community is so much our strength and we have to work with them hand-in-hand.” – CP


Mentioned in this Episode:

Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre

Black Creek Community Health Centre

Alliance Black Health Committee
Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario (BPAO)

Alliance for Healthier Communities


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