Dartmouth General Hospital African Nova Scotian Health Updates

Photo courtesy of Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation

Dartmouth General Hospital serves diverse communities and  populations, each with unique needs.  People of African descent are an important and vibrant part of Nova Scotia’s past and  contribute to the fabric and success of today’s province. Nova Scotia is home to the largest indigenous Black community in Canada, with more than 52 historic communities, many of which seek care at the Dartmouth General.  

African Nova Scotians have often had negative experiences in the health care system, and often suffer significant health inequities and as a result, poorer health outcomes compared to other Nova Scotian populations. One of our priorities at  Dartmouth General is to improve the accessibility and experience for all patients.  As part of this work, we are focusing on improving diversity of our healthcare workforce, to better reflect the  communities that we serve. Seeing someone who looks like you, who understands your story, can make all the difference in a  patient’s health trajectory. 

Although there is a lot of work to do, there is great momentum in the area of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging at  Dartmouth General, and within Nova Scotia Health. We are  continuing to build on the hard work of those before us,  towards a vision of improved health and quality of life for all  diverse communities. 


One of the first initiatives to come out of the Dartmouth  General Committee for African Nova Scotian Health Promotion is a pilot job fair.  This job fair, the first of its kind within Nova Scotia Health, will be held virtually and will include  opportunities in multiple areas of the system, including nursing, social work and physiotherapy, as well as nutrition, porter and  environmental services. Stay tuned for more details. 


The Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation has partnered with Emera and RBC, along with the Dalhousie Global Health Office, to support Dalhousie University’s PLANS program to attract the next generation of African Nova Scotian health care professionals.  

The PLANS program aims to address some of the barriers facing African Nova Scotian students as they explore careers in health  professions. PLANS creates opportunities for African Nova  Scotian youth to: 

• explore various health professions
• engage in hands-on activities
• connect with mentors
• create a network of support


Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation has established Healthcare Bursaries for African Nova Scotians. 

This bursary program recognizes one African Nova Scotian student from each of the six Dartmouth high schools (Auburn High, Cole Harbour High, Dartmouth High, Island View High, Woodlawn High, and École secondaire Mosaïque) with a $2,000 award, annually.  

“We are investing in our community and in the future, hoping to attract African Nova Scotian students and inspire them to join the amazing healthcare team at Dartmouth General. We were so excited to have just awarded  bursaries to our second group of students who are on their journey to becoming future healthcare heroes. We are also working with our generous donors on creating a renewable bursary for African Nova Scotian students in the near future,” said Stephen Harding,  Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation  President & CEO. 

Pictured: 2021 bursary winners, photo courtesy of Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation


Dartmouth General, through the  generosity of the Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation, sponsored five staff to attend the recent International Black Health Conference in Halifax, with the goal of applying their learnings toward an initiative to improve the health outcomes of African Nova Scotian patients.   

This conference, the first of its kind in Canada, focused on improving Black health outcomes across the African  Diaspora, informing clinical practice, policy change, showcasing  achievements and promising practices. 


The ANSDAG is a newly formed group at Dartmouth General, open to Dartmouth General staff from across all sectors.  

Acknowledging that Dartmouth General serves the historical Black communities that comprise the Preston Township, the group aims to: 

  1. Provide peer support and networking to employees of African descent.
  2. Provide potential mentorship to African Nova Scotian learners and new employees.
  3. Support the African Nova Scotian initiatives being developed by community and leadership at Dartmouth General.


The TD Heart Health initiative supports research on cardiac health in African Nova Scotian communities. This research was driven by early indicators showing that  African Nova Scotians are less likely to access  diagnostic and treatment options for cardiac conditions. When they do access these options, it is often later in the course of their disease.  

We hope to use this research to support new and innovative approaches to addressing barriers faced by high-risk  populations and ultimately improve health outcomes in African Nova Scotian communities.  

Pictured left to right: Dr. Jason Yung, Stephen Harding, Preston Simmons, Holly Adams, Leslie Fraser at The Heart of the Township Event, October 2020. Photo courtesy of the Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation.


In 2021, we formed the Dartmouth General Committee for African Nova Scotian Health Promotion to foster and support health promotion of  African Nova Scotian communities.  This includes all people of African descent  - those who have lived in Nova Scotia for generations, as well as newcomers.  This committee consists of Dartmouth General site leadership, African Nova Scotian staff from a variety of clinical departments at the hospital, the African Nova Scotian Services Consultant for Nova Scotia Health, as well as community partnerships with the Health Association of African Canadians and the Nova Scotia Brotherhood, and the Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation.  

The committee is looking at a variety of initiatives to improve the healthcare experience and health outcomes of African Nova Scotians in our hospital, including: 

  • Recruitment and retention, career development and support for African Nova Scotians at Dartmouth General
  • Education about African Nova Scotian health outcomes,  determinants of health, and cultural competency
  • Framework for outreach/liaison to African Nova Scotian communities


Our long-term vision is that Dartmouth General Hospital be recognized as a Centre of Excellence in Cultural Competency where patients, families, staff and physicians of diverse backgrounds feel they belong.  
To achieve this vision, we are seeking ongoing input and advice from the communities directly affected. 

We would like to acknowledge both their current realities and the impact of a historic legacy of systemic racism. We will also be responsive to, and respectful of, cultural values and belief systems.