Social Justice and Public Health: Taking Action
Public health and social justice are intrinsically linked: in order to achieve the best health outcomes for our population, we must engage in social justice. With the current global climate at a boiling point, we must change our beliefs and behaviours. Here are a few ways you can take action today to Activate Health, support social justice, and improve public health.
Listen to the voices of those who are directly impacted. Whether it’s BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) communities, LGBTQ2S communities, people who use drugs, or other subpopulations. Believe their experiences of discrimination, stigma, violence, and injustice. Listen to the solutions those with lived experience present and stand with them.
If you’re White, acknowledge White privilege. Know that many comforts and basic rights are afforded to you simply because of the colour of your skin. Use that privilege to protect BIPOC groups; speak out and take action. It is not enough to say ‘I am not a racist’ because White people are all complicit in having created, benefitted from, and maintained the systems that allow for racism and injustice to perpetuate.
Use your vote to ensure we have leaders who understand social justice, who want to work for change, and improve our systems. We must rebuild systems, structures, and policies in order to achieve a socially just society.
Protest peacefully (please do so safely by following the important directives for COVID-19). Protesting has had an incredible ability to create social change in our world.
If you see racist acts, don’t ignore them. If you hear stigmatizing language, correct it. Our words matter. It’s better to say something, and not get it quite right, than say nothing because there is an opportunity to learn and grow when we make mistakes. When somebody tells you you’ve made a mistake, listen and reflect, and commit to doing better.
Examine your own beliefs and stereotypes. And ask your friends and family to do the same. Through honesty and humility, call out racism even when it’s uncomfortable.
Celebrate diversity, inclusivity, and connectedness. Pride Month and parades will look different this year, but it’s important to still come together virtually and celebrate shared experiences.
Educate yourself. Think about heteronormativity as you move through the world. Learn about the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Find information created by leaders of each community, and support community activists, authors, and experts. True change can’t happen without awareness and an active choice to learn. (Here’s a great blog post by Sume Ndumbe-Eyoh from the National Collaborating Centre for the Determinants of Health entitled: Reflections of a Black woman on racism, Indigeneity and Otherness in Canada)
It is in our control to speak up. It is in our control to show kindness and compassion. It is in our control to advocate. Our individual actions matter and can make a difference. Stigma, discrimination, and racism do not reflect the Canada we want to belong to, and we all must play a role to foster true change.
Fight racism, stigma, discrimination.
Fight for social justice and equity.
Don’t hide because it’s hard; speak up because it’s hard.
This is how we Activate Health.
You can also improve public health and social justice by supporting our Driving Innovation Fund, which allows us to support public health and health equity projects.