Black Women's Health Advocacy Initiative

Responding to the urgent concerns expressed by Black women in our communities and the escalating demand for ACCEC’s services, the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council (ACCEC) remains firm in its commitment to safeguarding and advancing the human rights and dignity of individuals of African descent, with a priority focus on Black women and youth.
Over the past years, we have actively engaged in significant cases, focusing on supporting Black women in navigating the healthcare system, particularly in addressing issues such as cardiovascular, uterine fibroids, stroke, complex PTSD, hypertension, and reproductive health.


Addressing Urgent Health Disparities Experienced by Women of African Descent

The Government of Canada’s Department of Health emphasizes that Black Canadians face notable health and social discrepancies stemming from discrimination at various societal levels. This discrimination encompasses individual, interpersonal, institutional, and societal aspects, with incidents like racial trauma, harassment and violent attacks causing chronic stress and trauma, adversely impacting mental and physical well-being. Moreover, the intergenerational effects of discrimination affect not only individuals but also families and communities. Additionally, discrimination hampers access to essential resources crucial for maintaining good health throughout life. 

Furthermore, empirical research shared by the Canadian government indicates that Anti-Black racism contributes significantly to disparities in education, employment, housing, and other determinants of health for many Black Canadians. The National Institute of Health has brought attention to concerning health disparities faced by Black women in North America. Data reveals that the maternal mortality rate among Black women aged 30 to 34 is more than four times higher than that of White women. This heightened risk is exacerbated by existing health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, which can significantly impact pregnant women, particularly with increased prevalence of conditions like uterine fibroids and cardiovascular diseases.  

Recent studies indicate that Black women are three to four times more likely to experience maternal mortality compared to their White counterparts. These stark disparities signify the urgency of ACCEC’s initiative and highlight the critical need for targeted advocacy efforts to ensure equitable access to healthcare for women of African descent living in Alberta and across Canada.  


ACCEC's Work

It’s important to highlight that ACCEC’s advocacy efforts and support for patient care services have not received any funding or resources. Despite this, we operate solely on a voluntary basis, providing support to Black women who come to us in physical pain and distress. Many of these women feel that their pain isn’t taken seriously by medical professionals, reflecting a concerning trend of medical malpractice that we frequently encounter. There was a lack of data on the health of Black individuals as Canada previously did not collect race-based health data. As Canada started collecting data with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Operating solely on a voluntary basis and capitalizing on our social resources, ACCEC seamlessly integrates expertise from our legal directory, which includes pro bono lawyers and health specialists, alongside our specialized knowledge in advocacy. It is this combination that has propelled and culminated in today’s launch of ACCEC’s Black Women’s Health Advocacy Initiative for Black women and girls.
Our model consistently delivers positive outcomes within our communities as we prioritize addressing their pain and medical needs through established pathways. However, we acknowledge that there are still numerous cases pending results, signifying that we have a long journey ahead. Despite the progress made and the benefits received by many women in our community, we remain steadfast in our commitment to advocate for those who are still in need, with ongoing efforts in motion. 

Our commitment extends to ensuring the responsiveness and accountability of the healthcare system to the people it serves within our community. Leveraging various resources, including the expertise of our legal directors and pro bono lawyers, we advance advocacy strategies in several cases. Additionally, ACCEC has formed a collaborative working relations with The Alberta Ombudsman office to ensure fair treatment through independent investigations and recommendations. 

Encountering overwhelming cases, particularly concerning Black women’s health, we have witnessed a range of concerns encompassing both physical and mental health issues. From uterine fibroids to complex PTSD, we have supported individuals in monitoring and advocating for tailored treatment plans, initiating investigations, and advocating for quality medical support.  

Continuing our steadfast commitment and in alignment with our mandate, we are thrilled to announce ACCEC’s Black Women’s Health Advocacy Initiative. This groundbreaking endeavor will showcase a diverse array of health subject matter experts from Black communities. These experts specialize in various domains including research, reproductive and sexual health, children’s health, maternal health, mental health, and provide invaluable cultural advisory roles. Our overarching goal is to champion the health and well-being of women of African descent, ensuring they receive equitable access to high-quality treatment and care. Through this initiative, we will offer a comprehensive learning series, starting with local experts and brining national and international perspectives, equipping Black women and girls with the knowledge and tools necessary for effective advocacy and self-advocacy in all facets of their health journeys. 


Collaboration with Dr. Bukola Salami

We are honored to introduce our advisor and expert for this initiative, Dr. Bukola Salami, a distinguished scholar, researcher, and educator at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. Dr. Salami’s research focuses on Black people’s health, immigrant health, and racialized peoples’ health. 

We are also deeply honored to announce that ACCEC’s Wisdom Keepers Circle will serve as a cornerstone in elevating our understanding of health, well-being, and advocacy. Through the integration and profound insights derived from African Indigenous knowledge systems, we are committed to fostering robust, culturally resonant, and astutely aware holistic approaches to health and advocacy. By tapping into the rich tapestry of traditional knowledge systems from Africa, we not only honor our ancestral wisdom but also fortify our resolve to enact enduring change in the realm of health equity and social justice.