COVID-19: Equity, Allyship and Supports for Learners

A Message from the Office of Indigenous Medical Education and the Office of Inclusion and Diversity

Office of Indigenous Medical Education (OIME) and the Office of Inclusion and Diversity (OID) at the Faculty of Medicine are committed to continuing to offer information, support, resources, and opportunities for community building during this challenging time. We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our entire community and that community members are impacted in different. ways. As we are becoming more and more aware, COVID-19 is certainly not an “equalizer;” the virus is disproportionately affecting historically and currently marginalized individuals and groups in our society, such as people who are homeless, those who are economically disempowered, BIPOC folks (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour), and peoples with disabilities (among other groups).

You Are Not Alone

are mindful that we are all living in a time of uncertainty and change, which may result in feelings of fear and isolation. We are heartened to witness communities finding creative ways to come together online to provide each other with support and care. We would like to emphasize that you are not alone. As always, if you have any equity-related concerns, such as facing or witnessing discrimination or harassment, are experiencing isolation and searching for e-resources on mental wellness, and/or are interested in collaborating on an online event or initiative regarding emerging equity issues, please do not hesitate to contact our office. You can find a list of our office staff and contact information on our website.

Finding Opportunities for Connection & Community Engagement

this time, OID continues to offer programming to support learners. The Diversity Mentorship Program (DMP), Learner Equity Action and Discussion (LEAD) Committee, EDI Action Fund, and Diversity Dialogue events will continue in the coming months, albeit in a virtual format. We encourage you to continue connecting with your peers, faculty, and staff members through these virtual events and programming opportunities. We realize that many may not have the energy, motivation or time to participate online on a regular basis, but if you are interested in joining our office in equity related events and/or programming, we encourage you to do so. We will also continue to post equity related community-building events taking place within the Faculty, at U of T and in the community on our website and through social media, so you are all invited to follow these activities. Further to this, if you have an idea for an equity related event that you would like guidance and/or support on, please feel free to reach out to our office.

Responding to the Rise in Anti-East Asian Racism 

We should all be aware that along with the spread of the virus there has been a spike in acts of Anti-East Asian racism, including acts of physical and verbal violence, and the proliferation of stigma and microaggressions. While these acts are often targeted towards people of Chinese descent, many other East Asian communities have been affected. We acknowledge that Anti-Asian racism is not a new phenomenon in Canada; rather, it has been further exposed in responses to COVID-19. We want to reiterate that racism and xenophobia are completely unacceptable. If you are experiencing or witnessing racism, xenophobia, or any other forms of discrimination, you are encouraged to reach out to supports, such as the OID, the U of T Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office, or the Office of Health Professions Student Affairs. These offices will be able to provide you with helpful information and guidance on addressing these issues.  

This rise in anti-East Asian sentiments provides a unique opportunity for allyship. For example, if you witness a microaggression happen, please consider how you may interrupt the harmful message being shared and provide the person receiving the comment with support. Also, check out the resources on the OID website that we have compiled on how to be an effective ally. 

Expressing Gratitude

we continue to come together as a community to respond to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, OIME and OID would like to recognize and thank everyone working in health services and research, who bravely continue to provide care to patients and study COVID-19 in search of a treatment. We express our deep gratitude to all other essential workers who continue to provide vitally important services, many of whom whose contributions are often undervalued, such as caretakers and grocery store workers. We also acknowledge the amazing and inspiring work and initiatives led by learners, administrative staff, and community members to support and lend a helping hand to those most in need.

Selected Upcoming Events (stay tuned with the OID and Faculty of Medicine websites and social media for ongoing updates):

April 15/20 (12:00-1:00 pm)
Live Webinar: Equity, Rights and Global Health During COVID-19
Sponsored by: Waakebiness-Bryce Institute

April 16, 17 & 18/20 (1:00-2:30 pm)
Cultural -Webinar series on cultural issues and the psychosocial impact of COVID-19

Sponsored by: Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture

April 20/20 (1:00-2:00 pm)
Managing Finances During the Pandemic and Planning for Afterwards

Sponsored by: U of T Family Care Office

April 22/20 (5:30-7:30 pm)
Diversity Mentorship Program Closing Event for Mentors and Mentees

Sponsored by: Office of Inclusion and Diversity

April 23/20 (11:00 am-12:00 pm)
Maintain and Restore: Culturally Relevant Wellness Methods (Virtual Community Conversation Series)

Sponsored by: U of T Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office

May 1/20
Cultural Psychiatry Day (focusing on language, culture and mental health)

Registration: Please email Jenny ( ) for Zoom link and password.
Sponsored by: U of T Health, Arts and Humanities Program

Ongoing Events:

Programming on virtual learning and community building
Sponsored by: U of T Hart House

Race, Health and Happiness Podcast
By Dr. Onye Nnorom (MD Program Black Health Theme Lead) & Team

Additional Resources and Supports:

Social Media:

Women’s College Hospital (WCH) Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health
Twitter: @WCHIndigenous
Facebook: @WCHIndigenousHealth

Faculty of Medicine, Office of Inclusion and Diversity
Twitter: @UofTMed_OID
Facebook: @UofTMedicine.OID