Our commitment to doing better

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Dear members of the Arts community,

Recent events – especially the brutal killing of George Floyd – have reminded us painfully that, in spite of decades of activism, racism continues. It is too easy and tempting to point the finger of blame at our neighbours south of the border. But Canadian complacency is unwarranted: as one of the banners in a recent demonstration in Vancouver proclaimed, “It happens here too.”

This week President Hamdullahpur released a statement on the University’s commitment to stand against racism. This was followed by a message from the office of Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion that outlined immediate actions to begin to address systemic racism within our institution, including many ways for all of us to engage and learn.

In the Faculty of Arts, we commit to listening and doing better. I encourage everyone to take an active role to listen to the concerns of Black, Indigenous and racialized students, staff, and faculty. In our work and interactions, we need to be conscious of and proactively challenge white privilege and colonial structures. We need to continuously strive to create an equal, fair and welcoming learning environment for everyone.

Developing and implementing clear actions is important. The Dean’s Office will consult and take steps on this soon. Our strategic planning task force will also focus on articulating the anti-racism priorities for our Faculty. But I am also inviting you, as members of the Arts community, to come forward with ideas and suggestions to help us work together on this pressing issue.

Sheila Ager, Dean