When I was a little girl I loved being out and about with my dad. As I tagged along on trips to the hardware store or a stroll to pick up a newspaper, I was in awe that he seemed to know everyone, everywhere we went. As I got older, I realized that his magic was self-made. It was his approach to life. He shared his philosophy with me and it was simple.
“Speak to everyone you meet and choose your friends from there.”
Most importantly, when my dad said “everyone”, he meant everyone. He did not mean only those who look like you, sound like you, dress like you or share your beliefs. He enjoyed meeting people and hearing their stories. Rather than focusing on their differences, he looked for common ground. He shared his learnings. He liked to tell stories. He was my role model in how to approach the world.
This philosophy has served me well both personally and professionally. I’ve met wonderful people who have enriched my life in so many ways. It is also something that I’ve had cause to think more about in recent days as tensions unfold around the world and closer to home. How do we as individuals and as organizations demonstrate that we do not stand for intolerance, are approachable allies and that we are safe places for people to live, work and receive care. Diversity really is our strength.
At the hospital, we acknowledge that our sites sit on traditional territories. We are fortunate and continue to build our relationships with the Walpole Island and Delaware First Nations. Small steps towards reconciliation and establishing trust.
Chatham-Kent has a unique place in African-Canadian history with three of the end stops for the Underground Railroad; Chatham, Dresden and North Buxton. This is a significant piece of the history of this community and our Country. We must continue to be seen as a safe-haven for others. We are all equal.
Immigration brings newcomers to our community and every year, migrant workers from other countries come to work in our proud agricultural settings. We appreciate their contributions to our communities and our local economy.
Diversity extends beyond ethnicity and includes others such as our LGBTQ+ population. Participating in Pride celebrations is a start in demonstrating our inclusiveness.
As a hospital leader, it’s important to me that CKHA be seen as culturally competent. We need to understand others in order to respond to their care needs. We cannot be patient centred if our actions are solely based on our own knowledge and experiences. We’ve engaged in education across the organization to work towards this goal. Over and above this, we must be allies and ensure that our hospital sites are culturally safe places for individuals to receive care. This will take more time and effort. Years of systemic policies and practices will not change overnight, and we have an imperative to act.
We may be challenged right now to “speak to everyone we meet” but we must find a way to connect and listen to the voices that have been unheard. Learn from these stories and share. We can and will do better.