CEO Reflections for CWHLC 2022

November 16, 2022

The Canadian College of Health Leaders was pleased to present the virtual Canada West Health Leaders Conference (CWHLC) on November 9-10, 2022. Hosted by the CCHL Western Chapters (Assiniboia (SK), BC Interior, BC Lower Mainland, BC Vancouver Island, Manitoba, Midnight Sun, Northern Alberta, Northern and Central Saskatchewan, and Southern Alberta), and sponsored by Roche,  this conference presented an opportunity for health leaders across Canada to explore themes and leadership lessons curated by Western Canada’s health leaders.

As I ponder the lessons learned from our four terrific keynote presentations at the 2022 Canada West Health Leaders Conference on the topic of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI), I am struck by the magnitude and complexity of this theme. There is so much to unpack that I feel like I could write a fairly lengthy article. However, perhaps I will attempt to do something more difficult which is to try and capture the essence of what we discussed as succinctly as possible.

Dr. Onye Nnorom talked about doing things differently to achieve JEDI success. Leaders must unlearn before moving forward. For example, race is not a proxy for medical diagnosis and health related decisions.  But racial discrimination as a source of trauma causes negative health outcomes.

Dr. James Makokis advocated for trauma-informed and culturally safe care. He suggested that leaders need self-reflection to recognize and accept that racism exists and happens in front of our eyes, report failures, and take action to lead the change.

Dr. Liz O’Riordan delivered a poignant and personal narrative about seeing care from the patient’s perspective. As a breast surgeon who became a breast cancer survivor herself, she stressed that there are many details and important conversations that health leaders cannot ignore to be truly inclusive with their patients. One solution is to create better information resources for patients by patients with physician support as a pathway to better care.

Finally, Celina Caesar-Chavannes talked about the boy in the yellow shirt who is seeking JEDI.  Reframing the discussion for leaders starts with self-awareness and accountability. Celina shared a metaphor for JEDI that the audience really appreciated, even if the order of the letters was changed!  Diversity is the various and different seeds you sow (many different voices). Inclusion is the rich soil (a positive culture). Equity is the tools (mentorship and support). The outcome is a garden (justice).

Think differently, accept the truth and support patients on your path to JEDI. How will your garden grow?