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Landmark donation made to northern medical school for BIPOC women


The Slaight Family Foundation is donating $1 million to support 40 Black, Indigenous and People of Colour female medical students in their first year at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.

The NOSM endowment is the first-of-its-kind entrance scholarship that will go toward creating more BIPOC women physicians.

"Black, Indigenous, persons of colour, I mean being the only dean whose a person of colour in medicine in the whole country - this means a lot to me," said Dr. Sarita Verma, the dean of the soon-to-be standalone university.

"Full cost, right, $25,000 for 10 women per year over the next four years. That's like tuition-free for them."

Verma said she hopes the money will also help fill the gap of more than 300 medical doctors across the region.

She said studies have found there can be socio-economic disadvantages to going to medical school, and she's hoping they can eliminate them.

"We wanted to try and have the biggest impact on this vulnerable community," she said.

"We know that everyone works hard to get to medical school, but some people work harder than others," said Joseph Leblanc, NOSM's associate dean of equity, diversity and inclusion.

"This is an opportunity to support that effort and ensure that there's financial support when they're entering the school, as well."

The money comes at a good time for NOSM, which currently has roughly $14-million tied up in frozen endowments through the Laurentian financial insolvency case.

It's also a show of confidence for NOSM as it becomes a standalone university.

"My dream would be free tuition for the whole school but that's, you know, a few hundred million dollars," Verma said. "But if we can raise a million dollars here and there, why not?"

The Children's Aid Foundation was another cause to benefit from the Slaight Family Foundation's most recent charitable gift.

It's grateful to see the added support right now for women and girls.

"So many barriers to accessing education and other resources, so it doesn't surprise me that the Slaight Family Foundation jumped out in front and said we have to do more to support women and girls," said the foundation's Valerie McMurtry.

McMurtry said domestic violence numbers have skyrocketed during COVID-19. The group is planning to use some of the donation in the Nipissing region later in the year.

In the meantime, as far as NOSM goes, Verma said this is just the start of bigger and better things to come. Top Stories


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