From the desk of Dr. Garcia

It’s hard to believe that it’s already April, also known as “Oral Health Month.”

Spring is in the air as we begin to celebrate a number of graduation celebrations for our programs. A few weeks ago the Graduate Orthodontics Class of 2022 graduated and on June 23 the Dentistry Class of 2022 will also cross the stage at Convocation.

As I reflect on a presentation I made last month to residents, I want to share some thoughts with you around equity, inclusion, and diversity (EDI).

My presentation, entitled Using an EDI lens in all we do and say, covered EDI issues at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and Western University and focused on racism and inappropriate system-based EDI practices. Specifically, I aimed to start a conversation about recognizing and addressing racism in our midst, and how we can communicate across cultures to prevent micro-aggressions. 

One aspect of my presentation focused on the myriad ways we use non-verbal communication in daily interactions and how vastly perceptions can differ across various cultures.

For example, a gentle-grip handshake is considered polite and respectful in many parts of the world but can often be perceived in North America as a weakness in character or integrity. One’s display of emotions or tone of voice can easily be misunderstood, as well as gestures, touch, dress, scent, or even acknowledgement of personal space.

The residents asked some thoughtful questions, and I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion. While my time with Dentistry is officially coming to an end in May, I hope to continue having conversations around EDI and decolonization across Schulich Medicine & Dentistry for the foreseeable future.


Dr Bertha Mispireta Garcia  
Vice Dean and Executive Director (acting), Dentistry 
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry 
Western University