Actua Celebrates Black History Month – A Message from the CEO
This month, Actua joins Canadians across the country celebrating Black History Month.
On behalf of everyone at Actua, I would like to recognize the many contributions and achievements Black Canadians have made throughout our history and across our country to advance innovation in STEM.
Black Canadians have faced many inequalities pursuing, obtaining and sustaining STEM careers, including limited access to quality education, discrimination in career recruitment and promotion, and minimal encouragement from leaders and peers. Systemic barriers like these have resulted in a lack of representation of Black individuals in STEM at all levels. We applaud those who have broken down racial barriers, fought injustices and have paved the way for the next generation of innovators and leaders in STEM. Here are just a few of the many individuals who have done this over recent years:
- Eugenia Duodu Addy – CEO of Visions of Science and a leader in STEM outreach with low income and marginalized youth. She has a PhD in Chemistry and is working to change the lives of youth in the very communities where she herself grew up and impacting the lives of thousands of youth each year.
- Tamar Huggins – Award-winning tech entrepreneur, author and tech education trailblazer. She is Founder of Tech Spark Canada, a tech school empowering girls & children of colour through equitable and culturally relevant tech ed.
- Rita Orji – Computer science professor at Dalhousie University and Canada Research Chair in Persuasive Technology. She has produced more than 50 peer reviewed papers in five years, along with receiving over 500 Google Scholar citations.
- Dr. Alexandra Bastiany – Canada’s first Black female interventional cardiologist. Passionate about closing the care and diagnostic gaps women face in the health system, she puts her patients at the forefront of her work.
- Dr. Onyenyechukwu (Onye) Nnorom – Family physician and associate director of the residency program in public health and preventive medicine at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She also leads the Black health curriculum at the university’s medical school. Her work addresses the health inequities that racialized and immigrant communities face.
In addition to celebrating these individuals and others, Actua would like to reaffirm its commitment to diversifying our STEM programs so they reflect the lived experiences of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in Canada. We believe it is essential that all youth see themselves reflected in STEM regardless of their race. We hope that by supporting Black youth in pursuing meaningful and impactful careers in STEM, we expand our perspectives, experiences and ideas in ways that diversify these fields and inspire students of all backgrounds to pursue STEM education and employment opportunities.
To help make this happen, over the next year, Actua plans to:
- increase funding for programs that engage Black and racialized youth;
- represent diverse perspectives in our STEM outreach initiatives;
- create new policies to increase diversity on the Actua Board beyond our valued Indigenous members;
- develop training tools for our members on Anti-Racism; and
- engage the BIPOC community in helping us sustain a meaningful conversation around Anti-Racism in STEM.
We look forward to continuing this conversation throughout the year and sharing our learnings with you.
President and CEO