First Exposure

First Exposure formed the Black Village Leadership Circle to make Black Health a priority from the start. 

Check back often for information on medication, herbs and substances during pregnancy and lactation. Click the link to see Black community services. 

Who is the Black Village Leadership Circle?

We represent a gathering of African/Black identified professionals with lived and work experiences within reproductive health. The Black Village works closely with the Executive of First Exposure to determine research priorities for Black communities and oversee data governance, cultural safety of First Exposure materials, and privacy of Black Health data.

  • We are Black folks.
  • We are Queer folks.
  • We are Aunties, Uncles.
  • We are Women, Men and Gender-diverse people.
  • We are scientists.
  • We are knowledge holders and sharers.
  • We are mothers, fathers and caregivers.
  • We are birth workers.
  • We honour our Ancestors.


Village members have extensive knowledge and commitment in Black reproductive health justice and wellness. Village members come from diverse African/Black communities. The village is a collective of community members who have different roles in Black reproductive health from birth workers, mental health practitioners, to community health promoters, health advocates/activists, academics, and researchers, to name a few. This includes Elders who bring and share knowledge and students and learners, all continuing to support the legacy of Black reproductive justice practices.

The Village honours the frameworks of African/Black feminisms and Pan Africanism, and we believe that healing and wellness in our communities must be a collaborative, empathetic, safer, and strategic endeavour.

Building Safer Spaces

The Village is committed to creating safer spaces for African/Black peoples, our families,and communities within reproductive health. This includes our homes, hospitals, clinics,child-care centres, schools, workplaces, foster and in ‘care’, and within all environmentswhere Black women, Black men, Black Trans folks, Black Grandparents, Black families,Black Caregivers, and Black children live. 

Safer spaces mean to actively respect, honour, dignify, care, support, empathize with,and not harm African/Black peoples in all aspects of our reproductive journeys.  

This includes support before conception, pregnancy, vaginal birth or cesarean section, postpartum and menopause, adoption, surrogacy and throughout health challenges such as infertility, miscarriages. pregnancy termination, IVF treatment, fibroids and cancer. Safer spaces for Black people include mental health supportsthrough all stages, and within all aspects of reproductive health,

As African/Black identified peoples, we have a historical and current day relationship with colonization, anti-Black racism, and other forms of oppression. Providing safer spaces within an anti-racism, anti-oppression, anti-colonial, diverse African/Black-centred cultural frameworks offers healing and wellness, as we continue to resist against all forms of oppression and strengthen Black reproductive outcomes and justice in our communities and health care systems.  


The Circle is co-led by Dr. Cynthia Maxwell and Dr. Roberta Timothy

Dr. Cindy Maxwell is a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Toronto and Vice President, Medical Affairs & System Transformation at Women’s College Hospital. 

Dr. Maxwell is a member of the Black Reproductive Health Working Group and co-leads N-ABL, the provincial network to support Black medical learners and is a past-President of the Black Physicians Association of Ontario.  Dr. Maxwell is a Maternal Fetal Medicine physician with a focus on chronic conditions that affect pregnant and birthing individuals and health equity. She serves on the Governing Council for the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health. She leads the Obesity Stream for the FIGO Committee on Impact of Pregnancy on Long-term Health.

Dr. Roberta K. Timothy is the Black Health Lead and the Inaugural Program Director for the new MPH in the field of Black Health at Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and an Assistant Professor in the Teaching Stream at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Timothy specializes in the areas of intersectionality and ethics in health; Black health, confronting anti-Black racism, resistance and empowerment-centred praxis; transnational African/Black and Indigenous health; racialized health, gender and violence; Black families, healing and wellness, and anti-oppression/anti-colonial/decolonizing approaches to mental health. 

Black Populations in Canada

  • There are 1.5M self-identified Black people in Canada (2021 Census)  
  • This number increased by nearly 350,000 from 2016 to 2021. 
  • Black people account for 4.3% of Canada’s population and 16.1% of racialized population.
  • Both immigration and natural increase have contributed to the growth of the Blackpopulation in Canada. 
  • The Black population is younger than the total population: average age of 30.2 yearsversus 41.2 years. 
  • Children <15 years: 26.1% of the Black population versus 16.5% of the total population.
  • Adults >65 years: 7.4% of the Black population versus 18.1% of the total population.
  • Slightly more Black women than Black men: 51.6% women.

Statistics Canada: 


What is Anti-Black Racism?

Anti-Black racism is prejudice, attitudes, beliefs, stereotyping anddiscrimination that is directed at people of African descent and is rooted intheir unique history and experience of enslavement. Anti-Black racism isdeeply entrenched in Canadian institutions, policies and practices, such thatanti-Black racism is either functionally normalized or rendered invisible tothe larger white society. Anti-Black racism is manifested in the legacy of thecurrent social, economic, and political marginalization of African Canadiansin society such as the lack of opportunities, lower socio-economic status,higher unemployment, significant poverty rates and overrepresentation inthe criminal justice system. (African Canadian Legal Clinic). “ 

Ontario’s anti-racism strategic plan