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COVID-19 study brings support for Edmonton Black-led agencies and businesses

Sunday September 13, 2020

Dunia Nur, President of the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council (ACCEC)/ Trevor Wilson/CBC

A pick-up truck packed with thousands of face masks set out for multiple Black organizations and businesses in Edmonton this week.

The donation from MHCare Medical comes after a national study revealed the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black Canadians — research which has also caught the eye of federal health officials.

'Canada's definitely paying attention to our study," said Dunia Nur, co-author of the report and president of the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council (ACCEC), in an interview on Friday.

"People are listening and aside from listening, they're ready with the actionable items of implementation."

Conducted in partnership with the Innovative Research Group, the study found Black Canadians are more likely than other Canadians to be infected, hospitalized or know someone who has died from COVID-19.

Black Canadians also reported being more likely to experience layoffs or a negative impact on household finances due to the virus.

Those grim figures first reported by CBC News grabbed the attention of executives at Edmonton-based MHCare Medical, a major supplier of personal protective equipment and the company that donated 10,000 masks.

"We jumped on the opportunity to help and give back," said vice president Imen Haymour before he and his team loaded boxes of masks onto the delivery truck. "And we're grateful that we can help."

Trevor Wilson/CBC

When the pandemic hit, demand for protective gear spiked, recalled Haymour. Within months, MHCare Medical brought in more than 200 million pieces of personal protective equipment to supply health institutions and government sectors.

"And that really opened our eyes to how many susceptible people are out there that either can't afford the PPE (personal protective equipment) that they need, or don't know where to find it," Haymour said.

The company is also supplying free PPE to shelters in Edmonton and Calgary and sending supplies to Beirut to help with recovery efforts after last month's devastating explosion.

In Edmonton, the ACCEC is redistributing the masks to organizations like the Somali Cultural Society of Edmonton, Black Lives Matter Edmonton and the Boyle McCauley Dental Clinic.

"My community, the salon, everybody — we need it. And we are really grateful for that." - Mariatu Sesay, Almaria Beauty Salon


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