Black Community Town Hall Event A Success!

On February 6th, 2016, we (the Health Equity Research Collaborative – HERC) held a Black Community Town Hall at TAIBU Community Health Centre (Scarborough) to share the results of the evaluation of our pilot program Ko-Pamoja: Learning together about breast and cervical cancer screening.

Ko-Pamoja is an educational program designed to teach women about the importance of breast and cervical cancer screening. It is taught BY women in the Black community FOR women in the black community. To learn more, click here.

At the Town Hall, the morning started off with a welcoming by Tony Jno Baptiste, TAIBU representative, folloed by an opening speech by MP Gary Anandasangaree. Then Dr. Aisha Lofters and I gave a summary of the results, then some members of the team (Estella Williams, Donnaree Tucker, Adlet Willis, and Dr. Ankur Jain) who helped to create the program, shared their experiences. We had a lot of challenges in recruiting participants; cancer is a tough, sometimes taboo topic to discuss in the community.

Leila Springer, was our facilitator for the event and she did a great job, and she also described her experience as a breast cancer survivor and the work that her organization, the Olive Branch of Hope, does to support women who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Participants also gave us with feedback on how to improve the program and some of them also shared their own experiences as Black female cancer survivors or as the family members of people who had been diagnosed with cancer.

It was an informative, honest and powerful discussion about a topic that is seldom broached in the community. Members of the audience said they learned a lot but I think we as researchers and Ko-Pamoja program organizers learned more than we ever imagined through this experience! We certainly hope to improve on the program and expand it within the GTA in the future.

We are truly grateful for all the community support!

Some Photos from the event are below.

IMG_6467 IMG_6474 IMG_6496 (2) IMG_6622 (2) (1) IMG_6638 (2)

Group Photo


Some Facts:

  • Screening means getting tested before you develop symptoms, because generally, the earlier a disease is caught, the better the chances of treating it
  • The pap test screens for cervical cancer; the mammogram screens for breast cancer
  • Research shows that Black women in the US and UK are more likely to get cervical cancer and are more likely to die from breast cancer
  • The Canadian Cancer Registry does not collect information on race or ethnicity, but we do know that immigrants fall behind on screening
  • Immigrant women in Canada (including black women) are less likely to go and get screened