Posted: February 20, 2024
Devon Spence

Devon Spence

I have worked at GRH for 4 and half years. I am West Indian/Caribbean, Trinidadian. My mom was born in Trinidad and my dad was born in Tobago. I identify as Trinidadian.

I work at GRH in the CAIP unit because I feel as a black man I bring a unique lived experience not only to my role as a CYW but also as a person that understand that it’s important for us all to be seen and heard.

Black resistance to me means activism. From slave rebellions to the Civil Rights Movement to the Movement for Black Lives. We are not satisfied with a seat at the table of the oppressor. Change is necessary and very important and our rights and freedoms matter.

Black resistance advanced ideas of civil liberty through political activism, and built churches and schools that became the foundations of self-reliant black communities. It is every day and ordinary Black people organizing against violence and racial inequality. It is also taking out the hate and advocating for unity, respect, tolerance and love. This what Black resistance means to me.

Alexander Thomas Augusta, MD (1825 – 1890) displayed Black resistance after being denied entrance to American medical schools because of the colour of his skin. Dr. Augusta chose to attend Trinity Medical College in the early 1850s, becoming the first Black medical student in Canada West.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine degree in 1860, Augusta worked as a physician in Toronto, where he became a leader in the Black community. He also offered medical care to the poor, founded a literacy society that donated books and school supplies to Black children and was active in anti-slavery circles in Canada and the United States.

Sonni Clinansmith

Sonni Clinansmith

My name is Sonni Clinansmith; I am a Registered Nurse working at GRH for 12 years. I am currently a Clinical Skills Instructor for the MHAP.

My father is of African descent and my mother is of European descent. I self identify as a proud Canadian who is biracial or Multiracial as I have indigenous roots on both sides of my family. My black identity is deeply rooted from my black ancestors who escaped slavery via the underground railway and settled in Windsor Ontario and my father who was raised during the civil rights movement in the 50’s and 60’s.

I like working at GRH as I enjoy being apart of a diverse team of health professionals who strive to improve the health of our patients.

Black resistance, to me, signifies the ability of Black individuals and communities to achieve triumphs, successes, and progress in the face of discrimination and oppression. The black community has worked tirelessly to address and combat inequities. This resilience manifests in advocacy, community support, and efforts to ensure equitable access to quality education, employment and healthcare for all, regardless of racial background.

The Black healthcare workers that have shown Black resistance are Ruth Bailey and Gwennyth Barton who became the first African Canadians in 1954 to earn their diplomas from a Canadian school of nursing.

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