Launch of CIHR equity, diversity, and inclusion advisory groups. July 5, 2021. And I have a few comments.

PDF attached.

On July 5, 2021, Michael Strong announces the launch of an external advisory group whose role is to advise the CIHR on addressing systemic racism, and another soon to be launched external group that will specifically address the concerns of Indigenous people.

Additionally, Strong announces the launch of two internal advisory groups, one tasked with EDI in funding and the other in manifesting EDI objectives in the CIHR employment community.

I have a few comments on Strong’s announcement.

  1. First sentence, first paragraph: CIHR is committed to fostering an equitable, diverse, and inclusive health research ecosystem that values the perspectives and contributions of all – an essential element of research excellence.
  • The overuse of the metaphor “ecosystem” in these administrative missives is cloying. What’s wrong with the word “community”? Or, “network”?
  • Re: “that values the perspectives and contributions of all” is not a well-formed formula. “All” requires an indexical. All WHOM or all WHAT?

2. Take together 1) the “CIHR is committed to fostering an equitable, diverse, and inclusive health research ecosystem that values the perspectives and contributions of all,” and 2) the last sentence of the final paragraph, which states the CIHR’s “our shared goal [is] to build a research ecosystem as diverse as the populations we serve.”

  • Tamara Lich, a Leader of the Freedom Convoy, is not holding her breath that she and her colleagues are represented in the research ecosystem. Particularly in an equitable, inclusive manner. The “perspectives and contributions of all [xxxx]” is exclusionary, as is “the populations we serve.” Which populations does the CIHR serve? I’d like to see that list.

3. In the second to last sentence of the second paragraph under External Advisory Groups, Strong acknowledges Carrie Bourassa as a co-champion of Indigenous health research. Bourassa is the subject of a heated controversy over her Indigenous self-identity claims and has been dismissed from her position at CIHR. In upcoming posts, I’ll return to Bourassa’s case in light of the controversies around the self-identity forms required by Canada’s research funding agencies. My purpose in mentioning Bourassa here is to point out that EDI is not embraced, or wholly embraced, by many Indigenous people. And Indigenous people comprise one of the four designated groups (FDGS), or equity seeking groups, identified as underrepresented in research funding. The tensions within each of these groups, between these groups, and between the FDGs and their governors, governors who are committed to EDI, is something I will be investigating in the course of my research.

Resources

Michael J. Strong, “Launch of CIHR equity, diversity, and inclusion advisory groups,” Message from the President, About Us>Organizational structure>President’s Office, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Government of Canada, July 5, 2021, https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/52562.html, accessed August 21, 2022.

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