Considering RVH's Emergency Department? If your concern is less urgent, please consider walk-in clinics, your primary care provider, your local pharmacist or calling Health Connect Ontario at 8-1-1. Where to go if you're feeling unwell HERE

RVH supports a culture of equity and inclusion where people feel safe, and valued, and can be their true authentic and genuine self. RVH is committed to increasing awareness of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) and creating a space where everyone feels safe and that they belong.

  • Diversity – encompasses the variety of human differences (visible and invisible)
  • Equity – fair (not equal) and impartial access to all opportunities and resources
  • Inclusion – the act of including, involving and empowering others
  • Belonging – a culture where people feel like they are an important member of a group simply because of who they are

Contained within the RVH Strategic Plan refresh is the Strategic Direction of Value People, and within this strategic direction is the goal of “Support a culture of equity and inclusion that is violence-free and where people feel safe and valued.”

Diversity & Inclusion Council

The RVH Diversity & Inclusion (D & I) Council is composed of TEAM RVH staff and community members who strives to ensure RVH is a safe, welcoming place where everyone feels they belong. Membership is open to all TEAM RVH. If you would like more information about the D & I Council, please email

Belonging Campaign

As part of RVH’s ongoing commitment to DEIB, the D & I Council developed the Belonging Campaign, featuring members of TEAM RVH sharing how it is that they self-identify as well as their stories of diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging at RVH. This poster campaign is the first step in a larger DEIB framework that will continue to shift RVH’s culture forward in being a safe and inclusive space, where DEIB is at the centre of everything RVH does – for TEAM RVH and for our patients, families and community members. When members of TEAM RVH can truly be their authentic and genuine self then we can perform at our very best and contribute fully to our patients as a care provider and to each other as colleagues in the workplace. Belonging matters.

Abby’s Story of Belonging

Abby Cole

My name is Abby Cole, Radiation Therapist.
My story of belonging is centred around a seemingly innocent question I get asked at work: “Where are you from?” This is an example of a micro-aggression, which is a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group.

When only I am asked this question in a room full of coworkers, it implies that I am “other” or that I don’t belong, which can create negative feelings and feelings of alienation. From my own experience, the reply to this question is a question of my own: “Why do you ask?” Sometimes people giggle. Sometimes people look back at me like I didn’t understand their question. Sometimes people truly use it as a moment of reflection about why they did ask.

How can TEAM RVH help create a stronger culture of belonging?
It’s about communicating with your coworkers. If you see something like this happen, afterwards, ask what you can do to support them. Give them the floor to speak and take the time to truly be present and listen to what they have to say. I spoke about this situation with my team because it happens often. It was triggering to me and I wanted to explain why and the feelings it brings on. And what was really lovely is that my teammates took the time to listen, to hear me out, and to really appreciate and empathize with the way I felt. You feel supported. You can focus on your job because you know your coworkers and your employer have your back. You are not alone. This happens. And when you feel uncomfortable about it, it’s not okay and there are people here to support you.

I wanted to step out and take time to tell you myself that it matters – YOU matter – and you belong here.

Tracey’s Story of Belonging

I belong Traceys Story

My name is Tracey, RVH Phlebotomist
I proudly self-identify as someone who is profoundly deaf.
I have an implant that gives me 6 per cent hearing.

My experience:

I’ve been a part of TEAM RVH for just under a year. I have been welcomed in the lab with open arms by my manager and coworkers (especially Suzie and Drew). It has been very difficult with masks and not being able to lipread, but everyone has been inclusive and supportive through my training. They helped me get to a place of confidence in my work. My manager is learning one sign every day and practises with me. To have colleagues who take the time
to learn what audism is and how to be inclusive is amazing.
The team has made RVH a place where I want to be and grow.

How can TEAM RVH help create a stronger culture of belonging?
Make yourself known to me, tap me on the shoulder. Just tell me that you are present so I can turn to you and join the conversation. Make sure that you are in front of me so my microphone can pick up what you’re saying.
Don’t be upset if I ask you to repeat yourself maybe two or three times. The worst thing someone could say to me is “oh forget it, it doesn’t matter.” I actually do matter, and I’d like you to repeat yourself because I’m worth that. We can create a better culture by being more transparent, kinder and just
taking our time and pausing to be present.
You need to have the courage, no matter what barrier you have, to speak out. This is a very welcoming place. If you can’t find someone who you feel welcome with, come and see me.
This is how you build a community – you do it one person at a time

Watch Tracey’s story or

Dwight’s Story of Belonging

I belong Dwights Story

My name is Dwight Biggs, Spiritual Care

I have a neurodegenerative disease called Adrenomyeloneuropathy.
It is trying to shut down my body, causing a disability in the way I walk. I have to take it slowly, one step at a time.

My experience:
I am very thankful RVH has welcomed me and made me feel like a part of the team because that hasn’t always
been a part of my experience in previous jobs. Before I arrived at the health centre, I contact the Parking Office
to let them know about my disability and how I have problems walking. I received a lovely message back saying, “I have the perfect parking spot for you that’s nice and close. And, when you arrive, let me know and we can meet for a coffee so I can get to know you better.” I felt so welcomed and that I belonged already. I am deeply grateful my coworkers look past the cane and the disability and see only me. Thank you TEAM RVH for seeing me as I truly am and helping me belong.

How can TEAM RVH help create a stronger culture of belonging?
If we’re walking side by side, it’s always nice when people slow down and keep my pace.
If you are new to RVH, or if you’ve been here for a long time and you’re wondering how you belong, I
encourage you to reach out to someone. I reached out in the beginning and was welcomed.
That gave me the courage and strength to not hide my disability and be open about it.
TEAM RVH shows up not just for patients and families, but also for one another

Watch Dwight’s story, or

Meet John Hawkson

When John Hawkson was a high school student in Ghana, Africa, in the 1960’s, he dedicated himself to creating a successful career in healthcare.  Just two years after graduating, John made a bold and confident move, travelling over 9,000 kilometers alone, to embark on his dream.  He had been accepted into a regional nursing school at a newly expanded Canadian hospital, Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) in Barrie, Ontario!

John Hawkson enrolled as a student in the Royal Victoria Regional School of Nursing and would be a part of the graduating class of 1971.  Not only would John be among the first male nurses to graduate from the school, he would also be one of the first Black nurses at RVH.

Meaghan Ellis, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB), recently chatted with John about his experience at RVH.  Here is some of their conversation.