Author: Mikahelia Wellington, RD
Posted On December 08, 2021
It’s been a long two years of reflection. 2020 to 2021 gave each of us opportunities to pause and reflect on how we want to navigate this world. The pandemic put many of us in positions where we’ve been forced to work differently, interact differently, think differently and live differently.
Some of us started living at a slower pace, while others were forced into hypo-drive.
Fear, exhaustion, uncertainty have created the crucible that allowed us to evaluate the type of people and professionals we want to be.
Some questions you might have asked yourself may include: “Do I want to live a slower life?” “Do I want to live a bigger life?” “Who are the people and what values matter the most to me?” “How do I want to spend my time?”
Although the pandemic was the great “halt-er” to how we were living, it was not the only significant world event. We watched, reflected, and responded to crises such as the division associated to the U.S. election, Black people being murdered and unfairly treated by the justice system, rising conflict in Israel, famine and civil war in India, anti-Islamic attacks, hundreds of murdered Indigenous children found in mass graves across Canada, challenges in fighting for transgender anti-oppression, exposure to poor treatment in long-term care, continued barriers to addressing climate change and wildlife protection, and so much more.
Hopefully, these circumstances have each found their way into your personal and private lives. But how have you responded?
We have difficulty managing prolonged and ongoing traumatic events. Subsequently, our capacity to dedicate genuine and meaningful attention and reaction to each news headline is difficult. But at the same time, it’s extremely important that we do not become numb to the social injustices around us, and that we do not tokenize the trauma and oppression of equity deserving groups. The value of anti-oppression in our practice is still relevant. Not just on Black history month, Orange T-Shirt day, Pride week, Senior’s month, or when injustices and conflict make the news.
Perhaps you took advantage of anti-oppression training opportunities such as LGBTQ-Health, Indigenous Cultural Safety, Anti-Asian and Pacific Islander awareness or Immigrant and Refugee health. These sessions have become available because of the decades of effort and dedication that equity-seekers have made, and the windows of political and environmental opportunities that caused you to pause and have time to actually pay attention.
These sessions are not badges of honour to add to your resume or LinkedIn profile. The world will pick up and life will resume to its previously rapid pace. Yet, the trauma that equity deserving communities face will continue to exist if your learning and actions cease as you return to your “normal” life.
So how have these world events changed your views of where you work? How you practice? How you treat your patients, colleagues or students?
And how will you keep the ball rolling beyond these “unprecedented times”?
Authors’ recommended resources:
Listen to the podcast “Getting Curious” by Johnathan Van Ness interview with Ashely Marie Preston which offers an intersectional perspective of equity and what anti-oppression work involves:
Looking for an intermediate to advance course in anti-oppression?
Here are some options:
Centennial College Indigenous Studies e-text book (FREE): https://www.centennialcollege.ca/news/indigenous-studies-e-textbook/
X University’s Food Security Certificate Program: https://continuing.ryerson.ca/public/category/courseCategoryCertificateProfile.do?method=load&certificateId=194754
Rainbow Health Ontario offers ongoing courses on providing safe care for the Transgender, Gender non-binary, and Gender non-conforming community. Visit their website to engage in ongoing educations: https://www.rainbowhealthontario.ca/education-training/
Find anti-oppression groups or Youtube channels that you can join to follow for ongoing exposure to issues and solutions
A note from Kim Sandiland, PCDA President and Board Chair
Thank you to Mikahelia for your always insightful and inspiring words. I always learn, when listening to you.
I recently completed my SDL tool for the College of Dietitians in Ontario. Last year, my learning goals were rooted in cultural competency and when the tool asked if I was done, I couldn’t say Yes. So often when we set out goals we do consider them ‘tick boxes’ or badges as Mikahelia writes above. Cultural competence is not a badge, but an ongoing learning opportunity. I ticked the box that said ‘in progress’ for this year, and maybe the next as well.
PCDA encourages RDs and RD2B to continue their learning journey and strive to understand the complexities of culture, food, health and safety. We wish you well on this journey, and hope we can join and contribute along the way.