Dean's Statement Against Racism

Structural and systemic racism are public health issues.

I am disheartened by recent events and the egregious discrimination against Black and Indigenous people that has been brought to the forefront of our lives.

As public health professionals, we must take an active role in change. It embodies the core of our work. Racism undermines the health and well-being of individuals, communities and populations.

The School of Public Health pledges to accelerate our commitment to eliminate racism and discrimination by reinforcing skills to advocate for our public health values of compassion, empathy, justice, and equity. We will proactively advance our education and research efforts on the structures that shape health inequities with a focus on action for positive change and using that knowledge to inform practice.

We pledge to work with community partners to model health and equity-promoting behaviours and values. We will continue to support the recruitment and retention of a diverse group of faculty, students, and staff to ensure inclusiveness.

We are going to need more than statements. We have to really commit to the values of our profession - human rights, social justice and health equity - and the structural change needed to ensure health and a deep-rooted change at many levels.

Together, we can go far.* Equity, diversity and inclusion are critical for public health and our School of Public Health now and in the future.

Individual actions matter; collective action is powerful.  


Take a look at the Canadian Public Health Association position statement on Racism and Public Health, and the University of Alberta's Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Strategic Plan. The latter is a call for us to think about this deliberately and take action in a meaningful way. Please also read President David Turpin's statement: U of A Stands in Solidarity Against Racism

*If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. - African proverb

Shanthi Johnson, Professor and Dean