“Our vision is to achieve equity in health and health care for diverse populations.” – Health Equity Action Research Team
Health equity – we hear about it, but what does it actually mean? The way I like to look at it is everyone has the right to be healthy and have the access to do so. In order to achieve true health equity we have to acknowledge and eradicate the barriers that exist so strongly in our society, specifically targeting marginalized populations. Knowing my privilege, and acknowledging that my experiences as a White woman in healthcare are vastly different than that of others, I am driven to make changes within our healthcare system that better support Indigenous people. I am passionate about health equity and how we can achieve it, and this passion led me to wanting to work within this area of public health.
This summer, I have had the great pleasure of working with the Health Equity Action Research Team (HEART) in London, Ontario. HEART’s mission is, “to identify, implement and evaluate ways to improve health equity, through both service improvements and linkages to address gaps” (n.d.). HEART is made up of multiple teams designated for specific areas of work. I am working on the Indigenous Health team, focusing my research on diabetes and culture. We are currently creating an interactive, simulated, online training module that demonstrates the complexities of living with chronic illness and culture’s influence over health and wellness. Additionally, we are working to capture some of the adversities that Indigenous peoples often experience; and how colonization, historical (and present day) trauma, and systemic racism all contribute to creating an imbalanced health system that fails to support Indigenous people. Through this training, students will gain a more meaningful and actionable understanding of how to be culturally safe practitioners. This training module will be used this fall in the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry for second year MD students. They will have the opportunity to follow the theoretical patient through his life as an Indigenous man with newly diagnosed diabetes, and witness the barriers and adversities that greatly affect his quality of life and health outcomes. It’s been truly eye-opening working with the Indigenous Health team on this project. Next steps for the project include creating the script and beginning the filming process for the multi-media aspects of this training. I am so excited to continue to work with HEART and see our final product come together. Thank you to everyone at HEART for your dedication, support and passion. Let’s continue to work, advocate and fight for health equity.
To learn more about HEART, please click the link below:
Stay well, stay safe, and stay passionate!
Syd McGillis, BScN, RN, MPHc