PEI

'Racism is a public health issue' says Dr. Heather Morrison

In Thursday's public health briefing, P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison gave some advice to those planning to participate in anti-Black racism demonstrations in the coming days.

Officials urge masks, physical distancing at public demonstrations

The use of non-medical masks, physical distancing,' is very important, says Dr. Heather Morrison. 1:11

In Thursday's public health briefing, P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison gave some advice to those planning to participate in anti-black racism demonstrations in the coming days.

Demonstrations have erupted across North America over the death of George Floyd and other police killings of black people.

Floyd, 46, died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25 after an officer pressed a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

"We've seen [protests] across the country and recognize that racism is a public health issue, and it's really about giving advice," said Morrison. 

"I think it's just a way to support … absolutely recognizing that the voices on this matter, on this issue, are important."

'Keep safe when they have their voice'

Earlier this week a demonstration was held outside the legislature and another event is planned for Friday.

For those participating in demonstrations during the pandemic Morrison recommended:

  • Wearing non-medical masks.
  • Physically distancing even while gathering.
  • Finding noise-making alternatives to yelling, as it increases the risk of viral projection.
  • Monitoring for symptoms.

"I think really the question is about trying to keep people safe when they have their voice," she said. 

"They need to have their voices heard." 

Demonstrators gather at the P.E.I. Legislature Tuesday afternoon. (Cody MacKay/CBC)

In an interview with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin, Morrison said her comment around racism being a public health issue comes after John Hopkins' school of public health called racism and the killing of Floyd a public health "crisis."

"A lot of what public health speaks to is also about equity and I think racism of course is a part of that approach of wanting to talk about equity and how important it is," Morrison said. 

"I think we've seen it across North America in the last week. The important discussion that needs to take place and the need to look at bias that we may not even realize that we have."

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