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The power of community @ TOH

 
Registered Nurse Macrina Valcin showcases her Black History Month display at the General Campus.

Macrina Valcin showcases her incredible Black History Month display at the General Campus.

Last year, Registered Nurse Macrina Valcin wanted to find a creative way to mark Black History Month. With some help from her colleagues on the Mother Baby Unit at the General Campus, she transformed the unit’s bulletin board into a powerful celebration of the Black community, creating an intricate display with inspirational quotes, books to borrow and posters of historical Black leaders.

Macrina’s passion project was born from tragedy—the death of George Floyd. “I decided I was going to let people see what racism is, what Black culture is,” says Macrina. “I thought maybe they can see this display and learn a little bit more and ask me questions.”

To say that Macrina’s display was well received would be an understatement. “Everybody on my unit loved it!” she beams.

This year, Macrina has brought her creative labour of love to a much larger audience. Throughout all of February, whenever you visit the cafeterias at the General and Civic campuses, you will be greeted by one of Macrina’s displays in the Employee Corner right outside the cafeteria doors. This year’s displays place a strong focus on honouring Canadian Black heroes, including athletes, politicians and entrepreneurs. You’ll find a collection of books and posters that commemorate Black leaders from the past. “One of my big goals with these displays is to honour the past and inspire the future,” says Macrina.

Macrina hopes her displays will spark some difficult but necessary reflections. “I think people forget that racism is everywhere and exists every day. I’m hoping that these displays will bring about a greater awareness of what people do not see and do not know,” she says. “The displays will be there for a month, but I want what everybody takes out of the displays to be something they carry with them for a lifetime.”

Macrina’s display features posters of Black leaders.

“I always felt somewhere in my heart that I could speak out for people who do not have a voice.”

The warm support and encouragement that Macrina has received from The Ottawa Hospital’s wider community is what gave her the confidence to showcase her work to a larger audience this year.

After the success of her bulletin board project last year, as well as her participation in a panel discussion on the experiences of Black people who work at The Ottawa Hospital, Macrina became co-lead of the group Black Community@TOH, which is part of the Communities@TOH network. It was fellow members of this group who helped her create this year’s displays.  

Communities@TOH empowers members to connect with other like-minded people, address issues using their collective voice, represent their community and share vital support resources. These communities are open to both anyone who identifies as a member of the community and allies who act on inequalities by taking responsibility to end patterns of injustice.

In addition to the Black Community@TOH, anyone who works at The Ottawa Hospital is welcome to join the Pride Community@TOH, Women of TOH, the Disabled Community@TOH and the Indigenous Employee Network, which was established in 2021 but has since joined the Communities@TOH network.

“I always felt somewhere in my heart that I could speak out for people who do not have a voice, that maybe I could be a support to people who need it, who do not know where to reach out to,” explains Macrina with growing emotion.

Macrina’s display offers book recommendations.

Communities@TOH connects people who share similar lived experiences

The Communities@TOH initiative was launched last year by The Ottawa Hospital’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Council. “The Communities@TOH network came from discussions we had with people from all across The Ottawa Hospital,” explains Anya Marion, Coordinator of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. “We asked them how the hospital could be more inclusive, and they said they wanted a place to connect; they wanted to feel their identifies were represented, that they were heard, and could connect with people with similar lived experiences.”

Macrina poses with other members of the Black Community@TOH.
Macrina is all smiles as she meets up with other members of the Black Community@TOH.

For Macrina, the Black Community@TOH means a lot to her. “It’s a place where we can come together in solidarity,” she says. “This community gives me a purpose and a place to fit in somewhere I belong.”

After Black History Month comes to an end, Macrina and members of the Black Community@TOH plan to begin work on another very important project. After last year’s panel discussion, the EDI Council identified 14 Calls for Change, tangible acts for the hospital to implement to redress the issues faced by the hospital’s Black community. “Our 14 Calls for Change is something we’d really like to start focusing on and implementing,” Macrina reports.

Though she says change takes time, Macrina is excited for the future. “Our community is just starting to build, and we would love to see where we are in five years.”

 
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