Black History Month: An eye towards research and innovation - Video transcript (Idrissa Beogo)

Ontario’s Black community accounts for more than half of the Black community in Canada. Now there’s some food for thought. 

Being in a minority context is not easy. Being Black is even less simple. 

So, my name is Idrissa Beogo. I am a trained nurse, and I am currently an assistant professor with the School of Nursing at the University of Ottawa. 

What inspired you to become a researcher?

My inspiration for being a nurse, initially, comes from anonymous nurses that I saw in hospitals when I went for treatment or when I accompanied my parents, etc., etc. I saw them hard at work, devoted, gentle, who also braved the dangers of being exposed to sick patients. And then there’s the smells. They’re swimming in it. And that inspired me a lot because you really need to have that gift of caregiving. 

What does Black History Month mean to you?

It means many things. It allows us, Black people, and non-Black people alike, our entire Canadian multicultural community, to look in the rear-view mirror, individually or collectively, at what the Black community has contributed, what we have been able to do for the Black community — we do research in the healthcare system, and in health in general — to see what we have been able to contribute. 

Does your research have a direct impact on the Black community?

My work is much more focused on access to the health system, and increasingly I’m going to be shifting to racialized seniors. My next project, which I hope will be funded, is focused on Black seniors. It’s an area that’s like a vacuum, I’d say. There’s not much data. And this lab project would allow us to focus mainly on Black seniors living at home or living in long-term care. 

Black people are still underrepresented in many areas of research. What would you say to young Black people who might feel discouraged by this?

I was lucky. My predecessors did not have such luck. They really had to fight hard. More and more, there will be funding directed towards research on this type of population. 

There are a lot of plans, even at the University of Ottawa, in the 2030 strategic plan, there is a real commitment to staffing our faculty members with racialized people, Black people, in particular. So, this is a real opportunity to get involved. It’s a good time to take a chance.