Moderator and Panellist

Second National Summit on Racism in Nursing and Health Care

We are honoured to have Desmond Cole moderate a panel of nursing leaders, including Birgit Umaigba, Lisa Bourque-Bearskin, and Samantha Louie-Poon.



Desmond Cole

Desmond Cole is a journalist, activist, and author. He has spent the last ten years reporting and commentating on politics and social justice. He is especially interested in the struggle for Black liberation within Canada. Desmond's work includes ten years of local and national news coverage, five years of radio broadcasting at Newstalk 1010, a disruptive opinion column with the Toronto Star and an award-winning magazine feature. He is the author of the number one national bestseller The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power.



Birgit Umaigba

Birgit Umaigba is a Clinical Instructor at Centennial College, a mentor, speaker, and critical-care/emergency room nurse in the Greater Toronto Area. She has extensive experience in Emergency Room and Critical Care nursing and teaches across a broad range of clinical/academic settings. She is currently working as a Professor in the Critical Care program at Centennial College, Scarborough Ontario. Birgit is a vocal advocate for anti-racist healthcare and education, nurse wage increases, improvements to labour conditions and the increased employment of Internationally Educated Health Care Professionals (IEHPs) across Canada. Her advocacy and scholarship have focused on promoting a healthcare system where diverse ethnic groups are represented in leadership positions.  She has published opinion pieces on these and related subjects in media outlets across the country and internationally. She regularly serves as a coach, consultant and speaker for a variety of audiences in both healthcare and immigration related topics. Also, she has commentaries and articles on nursing advocacy in the Toronto Star, Toronto Life, Chatelaine, Al-Jazeera, Forbes Magazine and has appeared on TVO, CTV, CP24, Global news, CBC, and NewsX India. Birgit is committed to creating an inclusive and culturally-sensitive healthcare to address anti-Black racism in nursing while promoting the health and well-being of Black people. She is originally from Nigeria and currently lives in Canada with her husband, daughter, sister and nephew. She enjoys singing.


Lisa Bourque-Bearskin

Dr. Bourque Bearskin, (Mona Lisa) a tenured Associate Professor at Thompson Rivers University, is an inaugural CIHR Chairholder in Indigenous Health Research for Nursing in British Columbia. A Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Nursing (FCAN) and the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN). Her research contributes to supporting community knowledge as a generative process to advancing Indigenous health in Nursing. Globally, she is recognized for her relational, rights, and strength-based research approach. A leader in reconciling parallel pathways of traditional Indigenous health care in the context of community wellness. A former president of the Canadian Indigenous Nursing Association (CINA), she led organizational changes that focused on collaborative partnerships and mentorship of Indigenous nurses implementing cultural safety and security as key educational outcomes for improving nursing practice. She is a proud nehiyaw iskwew, a sur-thriver of the residential school and sixties scoop era, who maintains a solid connection to her community, cultural and ancestral roots.


Samantha Louie-Poon

Samantha Louie-Poon is a settler of Chinese ancestry based in Edmonton, AB. As a nurse, researcher, and writer, Samantha is passionate about storying the untold narratives of the Asian diaspora in so-called Canada. Samantha has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and her clinical nursing background is in pediatric oncology/haematology and pediatric medicine. Samantha is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Alberta where she is documenting the experiences of anti-Asian racism using storytelling methods. Her academic publications focus on anti-racism and child health. Through poetry, Samantha explores concepts of Asianness, belonging, and erasure, and invites readers to contemplate these tensions within taken-for-granted spaces.