SUDBURY -- The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is challenging high schools, communities, Canadian medical schools and the wider medical sector to join its Respect the Difference movement.

In a news release Tuesday, the school said the movement "emphasizes actionable changes in organizational policy and in fostering a culture of kindness, respect, inclusivity and diversity."

The concept of Respect the Difference is based on the study of human genetics that concludes more than 99 per cent of human DNA is the same, the release said.

"Through this movement, NOSM wants people to think about how there is less than one per cent that makes up the difference in each other."

“With so much in common genetically, let’s respect the unique qualities that make us different,” said Dr. Sarita Verma, Dean, president and CEO of NOSM. “Together, we can ignite a positive cultural change that is grounded in respect and reaches beyond the NOSM community. Now more than ever, our lives are challenging and we must actively be more supportive, more creative, more kind and much more respectful."

New policies and procedures at NOSM support the movement with a focus on human rights, anti-discrimination and harassment. Educational materials for faculty, staff and learners are being rolled out on several topics, including the warning signs of mental health and knowing your rights and responsibilities.

Now is the time

“There has long been a wider call for improved collegiality and the need to address issues of mistreatment and disrespect towards one another in the medical sector, and now is the time to make actionable change,” said Verma.

As part of its commitment to the movement, NOSM has appointed Dr. Joseph LeBlanc the associate dean for equity and inclusion, and has published its Position Against Racism.

Dr. Catherine Cervin, NOSM’s vice-dean academic and chair of the Taskforce on Wellness at NOSM, said it's important to recognize changing culture is difficult.

“We call on everyone at NOSM to be part of this movement towards safe, respectful and kind learning and work environments," Cervin said in the release. "We encourage and support each NOSM member to reflect, seek out, and give honest feedback so all our responses, actions and behaviours will mirror a culture of respect and kindness across all the School’s teaching sites.

"The specific strategies and plans underway will support learners, faculty and staff to commit to this change and the work.”

To learn more about Respect the Difference, or to get involved, download the ChangeMaker Toolkit at

Respect the Difference masks are currently available to purchase at New items will be added as they become available.