Systemic Racism and Canada’s Health Research Funding System

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As Canada’s national health research funding agency, we recognize the influence our institution has in building an equitable ecosystem, and we acknowledge that we have a

First time joining the online discussion?

We ask that you please complete a one-minute, anonymous demographic questionnaire before participating. Completing this questionnaire is an important step that will allow CIHR to understand the diversity of participants in the online discussion. This questionnaire is located on a different survey platform as a measure to protect your privacy.

Access the demographic questionnaire

After completing the questionnaire, please return to this page to join the online discussion.

As Canada’s national health research funding agency, we recognize the influence our institution has in building an equitable ecosystem, and we acknowledge that we have a key role to play in enabling a more diverse and inclusive research culture. We also recognize that differing views, ideas and approaches, and equitable and inclusive practices help promote research excellence that better addresses the needs of a diverse Canadian population. As such, we have committed to taking action towards positive change. We acknowledge the recent commitment by the Government of Canada to address systemic racism and to do so in a way that is informed by the lived experiences of Black and other racialized communities, and Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis). This includes recognition that the experience of systemic racism will be different for different communities. We concurrently recognize that Indigenous Peoples are rights-holding nations as First Peoples of Canada and a distinct approach is necessary to address the legacies of colonialization.

Through existing literature, feedback from the community, social media commentary and our own data, we know that biases and inequities exist in the health research funding system. In recent years, CIHR has implemented a range of interventions to address some of the issues raised by the research community, most notably focused on sex and gender, and Indigenous health research. However, we recognize that there is much more work to be done, including implementing specific actions to increase representation of racialized and Indigenous communities in our funding system. Using the best available evidence, we must expand our focus to consider issues around racial diversity and inclusion, as well as examine our programs, policies, and processes through an intersectional lens.

CIHR recognizes that the issues surrounding systemic racism are considerable. This is why we would like to participate in open dialogue with the health research community to identify and discuss specific measures we could implement to address barriers faced by racialized and Indigenous researchers and trainees.

While conscious of the importance of co-developing these measures, we do not wish to increase burden on historically excluded groups by asking individuals to share expertise and lived experiences that are already well documented in the public domain. As such, our aim is to use an inclusive and transparent approach to invite discussions on systemic racism specific to CIHR’s funding system.

The objectives of this online dialogue are to:

  • Identify barriers for racialized and Indigenous communities within CIHR’s programs, policies and processes, and suggest ways for CIHR to address them;
  • Provide a space for dialogue with CIHR on systemic racism within the health research ecosystem; and
  • Inform the development of an action plan on anti-racism that addresses systemic barriers in CIHR’s funding system.

Following this online dialogue, CIHR will host distinct small group sessions to determine what measures we can take, specific to the health research system, to:

  • Address systemic barriers faced by racialized communities in our programs, processes and policies; and
  • Supplement our Indigenous health research action plan in a way that further recognizes and addresses systemic racism.

We recognize that the terms racialized and Indigenous communities both encompass a diversity of individuals who have differing lived experiences. Recognizing this diversity of experience, we are offering a shared platform in order to learn from one another as a starting place in this journey.

While this initial dialogue will be fundamental to outlining the issues and barriers faced by racialized and Indigenous health researchers, CIHR recognizes the need to follow up with targeted discussions. As such, CIHR will host distinct small group sessions with racialized researchers and with Indigenous researchers to determine what actions we can take, specific to the health research system to:

  • Validate, and supplement, what we heard in the online dialogue;
  • Address systemic barriers faced by racialized communities in our programs, processes and policies using an intersectional approach; and
  • Discuss how CIHR can supplement our action plan to build a healthier future for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples in a way that further recognizes and addresses systemic racism. In the meantime, we also welcome Indigenous communities to participate in this current broader online discussion about systemic racism in Canada’s health research funding system.

This interactive website is meant to foster discussion, challenge beliefs that perpetuate biases and barriers in the system, share ideas and find solutions to inform the development, implementation, and monitoring of an action plan to address systemic racism within the health research funding system.

In the Forum tab, we invite you to answer questions, share thoughts and chat with other participants. In the Ideas tab, you are able to post ideas to a message board and respond to suggestions put forward by other participants. In order to create a safer space, CIHR staff will monitor comments as they are posted.

However, as a neutral third party, Bang the Table conducts moderation of the website according to their Rules of Moderation.

We thank you for your willingness to engage, share, and respect the spirit of inclusion and open-mindedness as you participate.

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