Launch of CIHR equity, diversity, and inclusion advisory groups
Message from the President
July 5, 2021
As expressed throughout the CIHR Strategic Plan 2021–2031, CIHR is committed to fostering an equitable, diverse, and inclusive health research ecosystem that values the perspectives and contributions of all – an essential element of research excellence.
Since the launch of the Strategic Plan, we have been talking to Canada's health research community about the barriers and challenges faced by Black, Indigenous, and other communities marginalized by race – discussions that have identified a need to look at our own policies, programs, and processes to determine how they may be contributing to these challenges. As Canada's national health research funding agency, we take seriously our responsibility to not only address these barriers, but to do so in a way that is grounded in meaningful engagement and aligned with best practices.
External Advisory Groups
Building on the commitments of our Strategic Plan, GBA+ Framework, and Tri-Agency EDI action plan, I am pleased to announce the launch of an External Anti-Racism Advisory Committee that is enabling us to solicit advice on how to address systemic racism. To ensure that our approach is meaningfully co-developed, this committee is comprised of advocates, leaders, and experts on anti-racism and EDI initiatives.
Recognizing that First Nations, Inuit and Métis are rights-holding as First Peoples of Canada and may not consider themselves to be part of equity-seeking groups, a second advisory stream under the leadership of the Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health (IIPH) is being developed to ensure that the unique rights, interests, and circumstances of Indigenous Peoples are acknowledged, affirmed, and implemented. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Dr. Carrie Bourassa (Scientific Director, IIPH) and Dr. Tammy Clifford (Vice-President, Research Programs) for their ongoing contributions as co-champions of Indigenous health research at CIHR.
Internal Advisory Groups
Complementing these two external advisory groups will be two internal advisory groups – one focused on promoting EDI in the funding system and in funded research, and the other focused on our employee community and supporting leadership on EDI from within.
The funding system advisory group will serve as a focal point for ensuring the integration of EDI across the priorities of our Strategic Plan, our core business, and all other activities. This group will also consolidate and centralize advice received by the agency and help to monitor our progress. I am pleased to note that our diversity co-champions – Dr. Charu Kaushic (Scientific Director, Institute of Infection and Immunity) and Dr. Tammy Clifford – will serve as co-chairs of this advisory group.
The employee community advisory group aligns with the call to action commitment across the federal public service to take meaningful steps to address any barriers or disadvantages faced by employees and to ensure greater diversity and inclusion, particularly at the executive level. Through engagement, this group will help to define, develop, and implement CIHR's EDI strategy. I would like to thank Dalia Morcos Fraser (Chief Financial Officer) for serving as chair of this employee advisory group.
Importantly, clear accountability structures will be developed for each advisory group to ensure that these efforts result in meaningful, positive change. In this regard, EDI considerations will feature prominently in our recruitment efforts as we strive to build a CIHR leadership team that reflects the diversity of Canada's research ecosystem. This includes promoting employment opportunities to a diverse group of stakeholders, ensuring a diverse selection panel, and considering EDI at all stages of the selection process. We will have an opportunity to apply these principles this summer, when we begin the recruitment process to find the new Scientific Director of the Institute of Cancer Research.
As members of the Canadian health research community, we all have a role to play in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion as these principles are integral to advancing research excellence. I encourage you to learn more about EDI activities at CIHR and participate in our shared goal to build a research ecosystem as diverse as the populations we serve.
Michael J. Strong, MD, FRCP, FCAHS, FAAN
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