Equity: What Matters to Us

RIHEL values the integrity and dignity of all human lives and the environment that sustains us. We stand for wellness of body and spirit and emphasize work in protection and prevention for our health and the environment. There is no room in our value system for violence or hatred or the behaviors and language that fuel them. We stand for behaviors that foster mutual understanding and believe that leaders must set a high bar for themselves and others in this. We stand for action against violence and hate. We find these values to be self-evident and fundamental to population health. As a training organization, part of our responsibility is to create an inclusive and equitable learning environment where people can engage and interact, free from fear of retribution. We value diversity and inclusion in thought, in action and are open to all, accepting of everyone and their lived experience, so that all may learn. We invite the community to read more about us, our mission and goals and our values on this page.

We support the principle that all people have inherent value and purpose, and matter to the collective ‘Us,’ which include those who have been marginalized in our society including, but not limited to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), regardless of sex, gender, or orientation. We strive to check our biases (as individuals and in our policies and practices) so that we are not forces of disenfranchisement. We will actively work towards dismantling racism and other forms of systemic oppression and not reinforcing them.

The surges in violence in our communities are rooted in other-ism: racism, sexism and other varieties of dehumanization and hate. The gun violence, extralegal violence and racial/ethnic violence we are experiencing is a public health crisis. This violence impacts us all and illustrates the need for leadership – leadership that draws on our history of nonviolence as the greatest agent of social change. Leadership that demonstrates that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way (John Lewis, 2020).

We have decades of work ahead to learn and to build better ways to thrive together. We are committed to working as a force against other-ism and dismantling the structures that enable its many forms, be they systemically- or individually- mediated. We strive to make our practices and our culture consistent with our values. We denounce all actions that have a foundation in racism, sexism, homophobia or any other version of hatred. These actions do not align with our values and we strive to break down barriers and encourage health and environmental work to dismantle racist systems and model the behaviors and responses we hope to see in our trainees and the community at large.

We treasure equality and we stand for equity because equity is the road to equality. Equity is a foundational aspect of both the practice and the science of public health. You cannot be healthy (socially, economically, physically, mentally, spiritually) unless I am healthy. The COVID19 pandemic cannot have made this more clear.

We support efforts to increase (and oppose restrictions that decrease) access to: opportunities to cast votes, health care, quality education, employment opportunities and living/working conditions free of hazards – especially for those who have not experienced equal access, as these are the equity conditions that pave the road to equality. Public health is what we, as a community, do to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy.

While we treasure independence and self-determination, we are undeniably and completely inter-dependent which brings both survival and joy. We share all the foundations of life – the same air, the same water, the same land. There is no room for violence or hate. There is abundant space for the full engagement of all people.

Version 5: July 23, 2021