Online discussion on systemic racism in Canada's health research funding system
Message from the Vice-President, Research Programs


The CIHR online discussion on systemic racism in Canada’s health research funding system launched on February 4, 2021 and will be open until April 9, 2021. To participate in the online discussion, we invite individuals to visit the Let’s Talk CIHR webpage, click on “REGISTER to get involved”, and follow the prompts to register for and join the online discussion.

In October 2020, I released a statement about CIHR's commitment to enhancing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the health research funding system and to announce upcoming community engagement activities. While we originally intended to begin this community engagement in the fall, upon consultation with partners, we are taking the time needed to ensure our approach is co-developed with individuals with lived experience and is grounded within existing knowledge.

The first series of engagement activities will be focused on systemic racism in the health research funding system. In addition, we plan to host community engagement activities on other topics next year, including how CIHR can address inequities experienced by researchers and trainees with disabilities.

Starting in January 2021, CIHR will host an online discussion to hear from racialized and Indigenous communities about the barriers they face in Canada's health research funding system and their perspectives on what can be done to address systemic racism within this setting. CIHR specifically invites the engagement of racialized and Indigenous communities with lived experience of systemic racism in the health research sector although the online discussion will be open to all.  

Starting in spring 2021, we will hold virtual small group listening sessions with racialized communities on systemic racism in the health research funding system that will build upon themes and suggestions from the online discussion.

In recognition of the distinct history, experiences and rights of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples, we will also hold dedicated engagements with Indigenous communities to 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.

Following the engagement activities, CIHR will develop, implement and monitor an action plan, or plans, to address systemic racism in the health research funding system. The action plan(s) will be informed by the insights gained through these community engagement activities, along with learnings from previous feedback, literature, and international best practices.

Many of our valued partners, universities, and other research institutions across Canada are also taking steps to invite dialogue with individuals and communities affected by systemic racism in the health and/or research ecosystems. We invite those who have already participated in or led other public dialogues on systemic racism to share the outcomes with us to help shape our thinking. To foster collaboration, reduce duplication and burden on the research community, and amplify collective impact, we are extending an offer to promote dialogues on systemic racism being hosted by other organizations. Please contact and let us know if there are opportunities where we can learn from and/or support your activities, as a way for us to move forward together in addressing systemic racism in the health research funding system.

We invite you to monitor our newsletter and social media channels for additional information on how to participate in the upcoming engagement activities.


Dr. Tammy J. Clifford
Vice-President, Research Programs

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