Implement a Black, Indigenous & Minority Application Program at OVC

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In light of the current world issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter Movement, my classmates and I were discussing ways in which we could participate in implementing change. It felt empowering seeing that OVC is also passionate regarding progressing towards an anti-racist environment as expressed on its social media pages. 

Anecdotally, it seems that OVC’s student body is lacking in ethnic diversity and is primarily white dominated. We feel that representation of minority groups in veterinary medicine is extremely important as it champions the improvement of animal welfare within these tight-knit communities. We also recognize there may be more barriers towards getting into OVC for minority groups, for example lack of veterinarian role models in minority groups, cultural differences in the view of animals/pets, and access to financial resources to build a hardy supplementary application. 

Recently, we discovered that the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine has started the “Black Student Application Program”, which is an “optional application stream for Black applicants who self-identify as Black African, Black Caribbean, Black North American, multi-racial students who have and identify with their Black ancestry, etc.” The program has been widely successful. While looking at the statistics from their Class of 2020, there was only one black graduate. The first year for which the program was implemented (Class of 2022), there was a jump to 14 black students, and then again for the Class of 2024, 24 black students! The University of Toronto Law school has also started a similar, successful program. 

Systemic discrimination towards all minority groups is a problem in Canada. Specifically we have a horrific history of generational systemic racism towards the Indigenous communities, which continues to have impacts today on both their people and their animals. These communities often do not have access to veterinary care, and they don’t see themselves represented in the veterinary community. For this reason, we believe that OVC should implement a similar program to that of the University of Toronto which includes Black, Indigenous and other minority groups. This program could help to break down barriers faced by minority groups and foster a culturally inclusive environment at OVC. While we understand that it is too late for the 2024 class, we would like to plant the seeds of potential change for the Class of 2025. 

As the #1 veterinary school in Canada known for its research and innovation, we believe that if there is any school to bring about powerful cultural change in the veterinary community, it is OVC. We believe that by setting this precedent, other veterinary schools in Canada would follow suit and develop similar student programs.