Akwatu Khenti is building a global community of practise regarding effective public health and educational strategies to reduce and eliminate anti-Black racism. He lectures tp diverse audiences, especially inter-professional teams, on strategies to reduce mental health and addiction stigmatization and promote Black mental health and well being. Dr. Khenti also facilitates instructional sessions for learning and teaching about Pre-Colonial Black Africa, the enslavement of Africans in the Western Hemisphere and African Canadian history.
Formerly the Assistant Deputy Minister for Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate (2017-2020) as well as Director of Transformative Global Health at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and Assistant Professor with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.
Akwatu has a Specialist Degree in Economics, a MA in Political Science from the University of Toronto, and a PhD in health policy and equity from York University. Akwatu has led a wide variety of international initiatives to strengthen mental health and addiction in primary care and to reduce stigma in health care. Akwatu previously led CAMH’s development of a specialized drug treatment and prevention program for Black youth in Toronto, the Substance Abuse Program for African and Caribbean Youth and
more recently chronicled the effects of the social determinants of racialized gun violence in Toronto from 2004-2014.
Akwatu has inspired many local efforts to improve Black mental health across Latin American and Caribbean communities through intensive regional substance abuse training for addictive disorders. In addition, he developed an anti-stigma intervention in primary health care across Ontario, has co-led drug research capacity building with the Inter-American Drug Control Commission involving 30 universities across Latin America and the Caribbean. Akwatu was a researcher on the development of culturally adapted cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions for Latin American and Caribbean populations. This CBT intervention has been applied with Vodou spiritual leaders in Haiti to test whether it can strengthen the system of informal care.
Akwatu is a recipient of the 2010 Harry Jerome Award for Professional Excellence. In April 2008, Akwatu received the Ethno-Racial Education Initiatives Award from the Department of Public Health Science, University of Toronto. In April 2007, Akwatu received the award, Educational Excellence for Community Health Care, from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto for excellence in teaching. In November 2005, he was awarded the William P. Hubbard Award by the City of Toronto for “pioneering work in community development, human rights and promotion of the African Canadian heritage” as well as the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for innovative use of culture in substance abuse programming.
The bad Black stereotype is public enemy number one as Toronto's Black Community fights for a better future. "First, you blame someone for writing you out, then you expect the same person to write you back in. You have to write yourself in." That's the message Akwatu Khenti wants to pound into the heads of angry young blacks ready to give up on the system...