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Celebrating Black History Month 2023 – Spotlight on Charles Lightfoot Roman

Every February, people across Canada participate in Black History Month events and festivities that honour the legacy of Black people in Canada and their communities.

As we celebrate Black History Month, let us recognize Charles Lightfoot Roman.

Charles Lightfoot Roman was one of the first Black Canadians to graduate from McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine. He was a pioneer in the field of industrial medicine, specializing in the study and prevention of workplace accidents.

After putting his studies on hold at the start of WWI, Lightfoot Roman completed medical school and worked for a time as an on-site doctor/researcher, later rising to medical director. He published multiple papers — including “Severe Industrial Injuries to the Fingers and their Treatment” in the CMAJ — that influenced health and safety protocols at mills and factories.

Over the course of his career, he documented the evolution of health and safety for cotton mill workers, helping to make workplaces safer for everyone.

As Canadians, we have much to be proud of and many legacies to celebrate as part of Black History Month. It is as important for us to thank those who came before us, such as Charles Lightfoot Roman and remember their contributions to our nation.

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