From left, Class of 2022 medical students Vivian Murungi, Gift Madojemu, Joshua Onasanya, Nafisa Absher, and Bukunmi Adesina. (Submitted photo)

Black History Month: The importance of representation and community building

As a Black medical student in Saskatchewan, I often reflect on my experience as I navigate the daily nuances of the health care system and the intersectionality of race, gender, and class. I recognize that as a medical trainee, cis-gender female, English-speaking immigrant settler, I carry with me certain privileges.

By Vivian Murungi

For me, Black History Month is a period of self-reflection and celebration of the resilience and contributions of the African diaspora in Canada and the world at large.

The Black Medical Student Association (BMSA), which was started almost two years ago, has been a wonderful community that allows for medical students of the African diaspora an opportunity to network, develop community, and plan events that enrich our lives and experiences in Saskatchewan.

BMSA has opened up opportunities to plan events that celebrate our diversity and rich history. In the fall of 2021, we hosted our first ever meet-and-greet event where medical students had the opportunity to meet Black physicians practicing in Saskatchewan. This event was filled with joy, laughter, and an appreciation for the privilege of community.

Medical students had the opportunity to meet Black physicians practicing in Saskatchewan during a meet-and-greet event. (Submitted photo)

As we shared our stories, I found myself humbled and in admiration of the resilience and what many of us had to overcome to be able to live and serve in this province. Black physicians come from all walks of life, and their passion for medicine has dramatically benefitted the province of Saskatchewan. To me, they have encompassed Black excellence.

As a young medical professional, I carry the dignity, pride, and integrity of my predecessors. I treasure the sacrifices they made for me to enjoy the opportunities that I do.

I continue to learn about the amazing stories of Dr. Alfred Shadd, the first Black physician in Saskatchewan, and Dr. Charlotte Williams, who became the first female Black veterinarian in Saskatchewan. I am honoured to be part of the BMSA, which pioneered as the first-ever here in this province.

Black History Month goes beyond our accomplishments; it is about celebrating our diverse cultures, honouring those who came before us, and holding space for each other and those we serve.

The BMSA chapter is proud to have the support of the University of Saskatchewan through its office of the Division of Social Accountability and the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Policy.

Vivian Murungi is a fourth-year medical student at the USask College of Medicine.