PHM Canada: Mini IPHU on Racism and Health

Beyond Facebook: Learning to think strategically, organize, and mobilize communities to fight racism in health policies and health systems

A Summary of Saskatoon’s first IPHU-inspired event.

“When we sat down to talk about the idea of offering a half-day IPHU-inspired workshop in Saskatoon, we decided that we should focus on an issue that is a serious concern in our health system and health policy, but one that people seldom have an organized opportunity to discuss. Hence, we chose to focus on racism and four key themes related to racism and health: Discrimination in the health workforce, Aboriginal health disparities, HIV/AIDS and harm reduction, and Immigrant and Refugee Health. We considered it essential to structure the discussion using community organizing and mobilizing strategies that went “Beyond Facebook” – hence we employed a methodology called “Sea of Change”, employing it in the four breakout groups”

CLICK HERE for the full report. 

Members of PHM-Canada have been discussing the idea of IPHUs for some time. In October 2012, at the annual Canadian Conference on Global Health a number of us across the country committed to piloting experiences of “mini-IPHU”s – these were to be related to local issues and the groups involved; once completed, the plan is to evaluate our experiences and consider how to move toward longer, possibly regional IPHU events.

Our IPHU inspired workshop in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was conceived by a small group of people from various community organizations, together with faculty, students and staff working on global health issues at the University of Saskatchewan. Although only a couple of us were either members or knew about the PHM, others quickly embraced the idea, and organizing of the event began.

When we sat down to talk about the idea of offering a half-day IPHU-inspired workshop in Saskatoon, we decided that we should focus on an issue that is a serious concern in our health system and health policy, but one that people seldom have an organized opportunity to discuss. Hence, we chose to focus on racism and four key themes related to racism and health: Discrimination in the health workforce, Aboriginal health disparities, HIV/AIDS and harm reduction, and Immigrant and Refugee Health. We considered it essential to structure the discussion using community organizing and mobilizing strategies that went “Beyond Facebook” – hence we employed a methodology called “Sea of Change”, employing it in the four breakout groups.

Evaluations of the day were very positive, and all participants want to see more such activities. One noted drawback of the short time frame was that there was too little time for deep reflection and information sharing on the topic. In follow-up the organizers and facilitators hope to organize a longer event in the future. Fuller details about the workshop are available on request from lori.hanson@usask.ca (See photos to get a visual sense of the “Seas of Change”.)