You are now in the main content area

Meet one of the inaugural recipients of TMU’s postdoctoral fellowships for Black scholars

Black scholars are among the most underrepresented in post-doctoral and tenured faculty positions and university leadership. To address this and respond to recommendations of the  (PDF file) Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review Report, TMU launched the Post-Doctoral Fellowships for Black Scholars program in December 2022 with applications closing in April 2023.

The fellowship was developed by the Faculty Working Group in collaboration with the Yeates School of Graduate Studies, and funded through the Presidential Implementation Committee to Confront Anti-Black Racism (PICCABR) and the Office of the Provost. The program seeks to expand and advance Black scholars and the Afro-centric intellectual traditions, support their academic endeavours, contribute to broader, meaningful inclusion of Black scholars, expand opportunities for research capacity in the institution and the wider community, and support career development and career readiness for Black scholars.

“This program represents a significant step forward in TMU’s ongoing commitment to addressing the underrepresentation of Black scholars, reducing barriers and promoting Black Flourishing. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the contributions of these scholars within our community and beyond.”

Roberta Iannacito-Provenzano, provost and vice-president, academic and executive co-chair of the Presidential Implementation Committee to Confront Anti-Black Racism
Joseph Adu

Over fifty applications were received from across Canada, with four fellowships awarded. One of the inaugural recipients of the fellowship is Joseph Adu, a highly skilled practitioner with over 20 years of international experience working in the fields of healthcare and education. 

“I am proud to be an inaugural recipient of this fellowship as it offers me a unique opportunity to contribute to ongoing complex issues facing Black communities and families in Canada and beyond,” said Adu. “I am grateful to TMU for their leadership in creating these opportunities to develop the intellectual and research capacities of emerging Black scholars to join in the fight against complex social problems in our communities.”

Reducing mental illness stigma in Black communities 

This fellowship will allow Adu to expand his research interest in mental illness stigma in Black families and will broadly concentrate on social and health disparities experienced by African, Caribbean, and Black communities in Canada.

The legacies of colonialism, slavery and white supremacy connected with anti-Black racism produce intergenerational trauma that negatively affects the mental health of Black Canadians, says Adu.

Adu also explains that systemic barriers and discrimination create social and economic marginalization that compromises the psychosocial well-being of Black families and communities. This puts them at an increased risk of poor mental health and mental illness, however, few talk openly about their mental illnesses or challenges.

“The reason could be a ‘double-edged problem’ in which the fear of existing systemic racism and discrimination is coupled with the persistent stigma associated with mental illnesses at all levels of society."

According to Adu, few studies have examined how anti-Black racism and mental illness stigma interact to produce mental health disparities in Black families and communities. His research will generate new knowledge to address this gap.

Throughout the fellowship, Adu will be supervised by Josephine Pui-Hing Wong, a professor and research chair in urban health at the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing. 

“When Joseph approached me to become his supervisor, I looked at the important work he has been doing on mental illness stigma in the context of family and felt our research interests and programs aligned well,” said Wong. 

An established researcher and social justice advocate, Wong is committed to and has taken on mentoring racialized scholars. 

“Not only because we need to break the cycle of academic exclusion, but also because when racialized scholars are excluded, Canadian society is losing out on the diverse knowledge, wisdom and innovation of rich epistemic systems across the world.” Adu will be the fourth Black postdoc scholar under Wong’s mentorship.

Adu holds a bachelor of arts in psychology and sociology and a master of philosophy in business administration, health services from the University of Ghana as well as a master of science in medicine, community health from Memorial University of Newfoundland. He recently completed his PhD in health and rehabilitation sciences at Western University in London, Ont.

Stay tuned 

Teshager Kefale, Esa Kerme and Ashley Jane Lewis are the other recipients of this fellowship. Stay tuned to a future issue of the OVPFA newsletter to learn more about them and their research!

More about confronting anti-Black racism at TMU

This initiative is just one of many outcomes in response to the 14 recommendations of the  (PDF file) Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review Report, published by the Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion (OVPECI) in 2020. 

The Presidential Implementation Committee to Confront Anti-Black Racism is a group of close to 50 dedicated individuals from across the university who have created action plans to implement those recommendations and cultivate Black flourishing on campus, and beyond. Learn about the report, the progress of recommendations and more on the university’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism website.