Suleyman Demi has dedicated his career to improving health equity and food security.
Now, as a researcher in the UTSC Inclusive Excellence Postdoctoral Program, Demi will explore how COVID-19 has affected food security within the Black community in Scarborough.
“It’s my goal to determine if there is food security and how the pandemic has affected the community’s mental health and wellbeing,” says Demi, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of health and society at U of T Scarborough.
The UTSC Inclusive Excellence Postdoctoral Program is a two-year program established to provide funding to increase opportunities for postdoctoral fellows from underrepresented groups, specifically Black and Indigenous researchers. Open to all post-graduates, $70,000 of funding will be available for U of T Scarborough’s departments per year to support the fellowship. It’s one of the latest initiatives in support the campus’s five-year strategic plan, Inspiring Inclusive Excellence.
It’s a godsend to have a program that reflects the population we have. As an international student, I’m able to conduct my research confidently.
Demi has partnered with the TAIBU Community Health Centre, a non-profit organization providing healthcare and community services for Torontonians, to identify and address barriers to food security in the community they serve, particularly in Malvern.
“The available data shows that Toronto’s Black population are 3.5 times more likely to become food insecure. There is a problem there, and the question is why,” says Demi.
As an environmental activist and educator, inclusion has been the foundation of Demi’s work.
He graduated with a PhD in social justice education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) in 2019. His research focused on the food security of Indigenous farmers in forested areas and urban farmers along Ghana’s coast.
As a researcher and international student, the fellowship program has provided Demi with a community of academics to connect and share ideas, although virtually, during the pandemic.
“It’s a godsend to have a program that reflects the population we have,” says Demi. “As an international student, I’m able to conduct my research confidently.”