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July 21, 2020

We are pleased to announce that we have joined the BlackNorth Initiative, along with more than 200 other organizations across Canada, in signing the CEO pledge to remove anti-Black systemic barriers negatively affecting the lives of Black Canadians. 

Commitments outlined in the pledge include working with the BlackNorth Initiative to create accountable anti-racism initiatives and systems within the corporate setting, develop and share strategic inclusion and diversity plans and goals, and importantly, track and report on progress towards eliminating anti-Black systemic racism and barriers impacting Black Canadians. Access the full pledge and our signed commitment here.

On Monday, July 20, Shift Health attended the inaugural BlackNorth Initiative Summit, during which leaders discussed efforts to combat anti-Black systemic racism in all its forms – starting in the boardroom, then to the classroom and beyond – to make the lives of Black Canadians and our society better. 

The Summit kicked off with a call to action from the BlackNorth Initiative’s Chair, Wes Hall: “The objective is to look back and remember 2020 for two things: COVID-19 and the year anti-Black systemic racism came to an end in Canada. We can look back in regret or look back at what we did today to end anti-Black systemic racism.” This led to conversations with guest speakers Evander Kane, Akim Aliu, Masai Ujiri, and Dame Vivian Hunt, as they reflected on past experiences encountering racism and offered calls to action for meaningful change. A powerful video message also shared the stories of everyday Black Canadians who have experienced racism at work, in school and during community activities. 

BlackNorth Initiative co-chairs, Rola Dagher, President & CEO, Cisco Canada; Victor Dodig, President & CEO, CIBC; and Prem Watsa, Chairman & CEO, Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited then discussed anti-Black racism in the corporate setting, why organizational leaders need to take collective action now to end anti-Black systemic racism and discrimination, and their aspirations for the BlackNorth Initiative to support leaders and ensure they remain accountable to their commitments. Hall closed the day the way he started it, with a call to action: “We cannot just be in solidarity, we must move in solidarity. The BlackNorth Initiative is committed to moving in solidarity.”

Joining the BlackNorth Initiative is an early step in upholding our commitment to tackling anti-Black racism, the oppression of Indigenous Peoples, and discrimination against other racialized and minoritized groups. As noted in a statement from our President, Ryan Wiley, “I believe that anti-racism is central to our corporate mission, and this pledge compels us to turn words into urgent action and measurable results. I look forward to working with BlackNorth to ensure that Shift Health listens, learns and is a positive force for meaningful and lasting change.”