On Wednesday, September 16, in a virtual awards ceremony, the Canadian College of Health Leaders (CCHL) presented the Alliance for Healthier Communities with its Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award. Alliance CEO Adrianna Tetley, who will retire next month, accepted the award via pre-recorded speech. You can watch the ceremony on this video (Alliance award presentation begins at 30:30).

"With the challenges faced by marginalized communities during COVID-19, recognition of the Alliance’s work on health equity is especially meaningful to us. From advocacy for Black communities and other marginalized populations, migrant farm workers and people who use drugs to taking the lead on a Digital Equity strategy for virtual care, the Alliance and its members continue to find ways to ensure health equity is prioritized during the crisis," said Tetley in accepting the honour presented by Jennifer Gilson of Sodexo Canada, who sponsored the Diversity and Inclusion award.

The award -- given to recognize a forward-thinking healthcare organization that has demonstrated leadership in creating and promoting diversity and inclusion to improve the environment for its employees, and to better service their customers/patients, and the community -- is shared by the Alliance and its 100+ members across the province.

The Alliance's nomination package highlighted recent efforts to diversify representation on the Alliance's Board, identifying four priority populations, hiring more diverse staff, mandating anti-oppression and Indigenous Cultural Safety training for all staff, among other internal steps. It also talked about the work Alliance staff do with members, such as the drafting, endorsement and updating of the Health Equity Charter and the Models of Health and Wellbeing and Wholistic Health and Wellbeing, guides and training for inclusive leadership training, and other health equity work that supports member organizations to better serve people who face barriers. 

As everyone in the Alliance membership, staff, and broader community health sector knows, there will be much more work ahead, particularly with inequities laid bare and worsened by the pandemic, but also through opportunities that arise as well all advocate for a healthy and just recovery that works for everyone.

"As we plan for post-COVID recovery, this is a historic opportunity to build a more just and equitable society," said Tetley in her acceptance. "It will require a commitment from all of us to creating more inclusive and diverse organizations and addressing systemic racism in health, education, justice, and governance."

As the leadership of the Alliance for Healthier Communities shifts in early October to incoming CEO Sarah Hobbs, she also echoed Tetley's calls for the Alliance, its members, and the broader sector to stay true and be leaders on their commitments to health equity.

"It is wonderful to see the Alliance recognized on a national stage for our work and the collective work of our members to move health equity forward in Ontario. It’s a sign of the important strides we’ve made so far,” Hobbs said.

“But we are also well aware that there is much more work to be done, including for us as an organization. That’s why we will continue to regularly examine and develop our own internal practices to address anti-Black racism and anti-Indigenous racism. It’s also why we’re looking forward to an important milestone for the Alliance and its members this fall as we refresh and endorse a new version of our Health Equity Charter, a foundational document for the Alliance and its members, as we continue on our journey to addressing health equity barriers for everyone living in Ontario.”

Here's the program and details of all the CCHL winners this year. The Alliance's entry is on page 15.