Virtual screening of Speakers for the Dead and panel discussion among Black History Month events at Michael Garron Hospital

Jennifer Sampson is manager of Michael Garron Hospital's (MGH) Emergency Department. She is also a member of the MGH Inclusion Alliance, which is organizing Black History Month celebrations at the hospital this February. Photo: Michael Garron Hospital.

Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) is celebrating Black History Month this February in a number of ways including hosting a virtual panel discussion this coming Sunday.

The Virtual Film Screening and Panel Discussion for Speakers for the Dead will take place on Sunday, Feb. 21, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Speakers for the Dead is a Canadian documentary film by David ‘Sudz’ Sutherland and Jennifer Holness that reveals some of the hidden history of Ontario’s Black population. The film’s focus is on the plowing under of a Black cemetery in the 1930s to make room for a farmer’s potato patch. The documentary looks at efforts in the 1980s to restore the cemetery and some of the racial wounds that were opened during that process.

Taking part in the panel discussion on Feb. 21 will be Sutherland, Holness and East York Historical Society president Pancheta Barnett. For information on how to take part in the event, please go to

The screening and panel discussion is among a number of Black History Month events organized by the MGH Inclusion Alliance which is a group of 45 staff and physicians at the hospital who regularly on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.

February 2021 marks the hospital’s largest Black History Month celebration in its history, said an MGH press release, and comes in the wake of a “challenging 2020 marked by reminders, including those close to home, that racial injustice and inequity continue to negatively impact the health and well-being of Black communities.”

Rosie Sears, a behavioural specialist at MGH and member of the Inclusion Alliance, said the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted issues of anti-Black racism.

“This past year has been a year like no other in my lifetime,” she said in the MGH release.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the longstanding pandemic of anti-Black racism, as well as the realities and negative consequences of their intersection. On this backdrop, it was important for MGH to recognize Black History Month in a multidimensional, inclusive and interactive way that promotes participation and reflection from, and for, our colleagues and community members,” said Sears.

“It’s our hope that these events, activities and resources will spark meaningful conversations, inspire further learnings among our staff and communities and be the catalyst to drive the critical changes that we all need and deserve.”

Other events planned by the hospital’s Inclusion Alliance this month include a Black History Month Storytelling Series.

The stories in the Series centre on the voices and lived experiences of MGH’s Black staff and physicians.

Staff members speaking in the Series include Emergency Department manager Jennifer Sampson.

“The calendar of Black History Month events we’ve created for MGH staff and physicians highlights a diverse range of accessible activities, including virtual art exhibitions, healthcare-related webinars and our own MGH Inclusion Alliance,” said Sampson, a member of the Inclusion Alliance, in the press release.

“We are honouring the past and acknowledging the work that Black Canadians and communities are doing now. We invite East Toronto residents to join us in our month-long celebration, which is an opportunity to learn more about Black history, allyship and the different ways Black Canadians have contributed to Canada’s history, medical advancements, innovations and culture,” she said.

For more on MGH’s Black History Month Storytelling Series, please go to

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