Fostering a safe space for Black pharmacy students

This Black History Month, co-presidents of the BPSA reflect on the group’s accomplishments and goals.

16 February 2024

This Black History Month, members of the Black Pharmacy Students’ Association (BPSA) are reflecting on the group’s first three years and planning for the work still ahead, building a better future for Black pharmacy professionals and the communities they will serve in Alberta and beyond.

We spoke to co-presidents Aisha Ibrahim (fourth year PharmD) and Camala Soliman (third year PharmD) to find out more about what this month means to them and what inspires the commitment and dedication members have to the BPSA.


What does Black History Month mean to you?

This is a time to recognize, highlight and honour the many brilliant accomplishments and contributions Black Canadians have made that have enriched our country. It is also an opportunity to bring awareness to relevant issues that are ongoing within the Black community. It’s a time not only to amplify Black voices, but also to educate others about the diverse culture and history of Black people while reflecting on ways to be more inclusive.


What is the mission of the BPSA?

We founded our group with the overarching vision of increasing Black representation and engagement within the pharmacy field while advocating for the integration of cultural competency and health equity across all facets of the profession. 

Our mission is to provide a safe space for Black pharmacy students, empower them and foster a strong and extensive network within the profession. Our focus is on advocating for and supporting current and prospective Black pharmacy students throughout their academic journey. Collaborating closely with the faculty, we strive to ensure representation on every level of governance and committee within the faculty. Furthermore, we aim to address prevalent health disparities by enriching the curriculum with a more comprehensive representation of Black health. 


Is there anything you’re doing to mark Black History Month?

Early in February, we co-hosted the Black Futures Forum collaborative event with the Black Medical Students’ Association (BMSA) and Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA). This event showcased a panel of students from pharmacy, law and medicine who shared insights into their application experiences within their respective fields. Additionally, the event provided a platform for Black undergraduate students to engage in networking opportunities with peers in professional programs aligned with their interests. 

We also will be creating and sharing more information and resources throughout the month that feature Black excellence, achievements and contributions to the health-care field. 


Is there a personal mentor or historical figure who inspires your work?

We draw inspiration from the countless Black leaders and innovators throughout history who have paved the way for positive change and progress in various fields. Closer to home, Tobi Obatusin is a personal mentor of ours — she was a co-founder of the BPSA and continues to be an indispensable member of our association. 


How can other members of the College of Health Sciences (CHS) be allies in your work?

Anyone in the college can help by engaging with and promoting our various events and initiatives. CHS members can also collaborate with our association and other local Black organizations and associations that are actively working to address the many health disparities within the community, and advocate for equity and inclusion within their respective fields. Together, we can all work toward creating a more inclusive and supportive environment. 


How can someone join the BPSA?

We invite all Black pharmacy students to join the BPSA and we welcome allies within and beyond the faculty. Those interested in supporting our association or staying informed about our various initiatives can find out more on our website, reach out via email, or connect with us on Instagram or Twitter