By Len Gillis
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A well-known Toronto-based charity has donated $1 million to NOSM (Northern Ontario School of Medicine) University in support of scholarships for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) women in the North who wish to attend medical school.
The endowment is from the Slaight Family Foundation.
The money will be directed to NOSM’s bank account and not into a general fund as was being done with some previous donations to the medical school when it was affiliated with Laurentian University.
It was revealed in a Sudbury.com story in 2021 that nearly $14 to $15 million worth of endowments made to NOSM were directed to LU’s general treasury before the financial insolvency was declared at that university in February of 2021.
The Slaight donation was praised by Dr. Sarita Verma, dean, president and CEO of NOSM and described in a news release as the NOSM’s first female BIPOC dean.
“I am deeply grateful to The Slaight Family Foundation for this gift to NOSM,” said Verma.
“This donation is groundbreaking. Every marginalized woman in Northern Ontario who dreams of becoming a doctor should feel inspired to apply to NOSM knowing there is financial support available.”
The medical school said the donation “will establish a first-of-its-kind entrance scholarship to both increase the number of BIPOC women physicians_including transgender and non-binary people_in Northern Ontario and contribute to the overall number of doctors in the region.”
NOSM said the plan is to provide $25,000 each to 10 women entering NOSM’s MD program each year, over the period of four years.
NOSM was the first medical school in Canada developed with an explicit social accountability mandate. By removing the systemic barriers and providing financial support, more BIPOC women will take their vital place in medicine. With 40 new BIPOC women physicians educated at NOSM, the number of self-identified BIPOC alumni will double, said NOSM.
The Slaight Family Foundation is donating $1 million to support 40 Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) women medical students attending the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) and who live in Northern Ontario. The donation will establish a first-of-its-kind entrance scholarship to both increase the number of BIPOC women physicians_including transgender and non-binary people_in Northern Ontario and contribute to the overall number of doctors in the region.
Verma added that donation will have an immediate impact on future doctors in Northern Ontario.
“It comes at a critical time_currently there is a shortage of over 300 doctors in Northern Ontario, as well as impending retirements, increasingly complex patients and entire communities without access to a family doctor,” said Verma.
This specific donation is described as one of a total of $15 million worth of donations by The Slaight Family Foundation announced this year, and is earmarked specifically for 12 organizations who support women and girls. The #SlaightInitiative is increasing opportunities for education and jobs, with a special focus on Indigenous, Black, racialized women and girls, said the NOSM news release.
Gary Slaight, president and CEO of The Slaight Family Foundation, said he was pleased with the initiative.
“The pandemic has added to the many challenges faced by women and girls across Canada. This initiative is about helping women overcome barriers and gain more equitable access to higher education and opportunities,” said Slaight.
Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com. He covers health care in Northern Ontario. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada