Upon analyzing the recommendations from the Working Groups, nine common themes emerged. The following themes detailed in the pages that follow, show a common thread across all Working Groups. Recommended actions for these themes are provided for the University’s consideration.
Theme 1 | Policy Review
The Working Groups reviewed some University policies and recommended others for review, as part of this initiative. These include Policy 8 (Freedom of Speech), Policy 18 (Staff Employment), Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour), Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments), and Policy 77 (Faculty Tenure and Promotion). Most, if not all, policies at the University would also likely benefit from being reviewed with an equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism lens.
The Taskforce recommends that as the University undertakes its Policy Renewal Project2, it reviews it policy management framework and existing library of university policies with equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism lens and principles. New policies should also be developed using these principles.
Theme 2 | Decolonizing Approaches
Working Groups emphasized the importance of taking a decolonizing approach to ensure that services, programs, curricula, communications, resources, and policies are rooted in equity and social justice. To achieve this objective, the Working Groups indicated the need to apply an anti-oppressive, anti-racist, and EDI (equity, diversity, inclusion) lens when revising and enhancing the supports, structures, and systems within the institution. Programs and services that were identified as benefiting from this approach include, but are not limited to, the strategic planning process, academic curricula, teaching and learning practices, wellness services, mentorship programs, professional and leadership development programs, recruitment and selection processes, institutional appointment processes, and performance appraisals.
The Taskforce recommends that the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism (EDI-R) creates a toolkit (or an appropriate mechanism) to provide a basic understanding of decolonizing approaches and direction for faculty and staff in their review and revision of existing programs and services with an anti-racism lens. This toolkit should also be used to guide the development of new programs and services.
Theme 3 | Resource Needs
Resource Needs was a prominent theme that emerged across all Working Groups. Specifically, safe(r) spaces and funding were notable needs identified. It is crucial that the University invests in these resources, as anti-racism work often exerts a mental health toil on racialized individuals, especially if the work is not well-resourced.
Creating safe(r) spaces for Black, Indigenous, and other racialized students, staff and faculty was a common sub-theme across Working Groups. These spaces will serve as a place for connection and community building. Of note, there also needs to be spaces that are open to the community to enhance their knowledge and awareness, and certain spaces for non-racialized persons to learn and (un)learn in a safe environment. For example, the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce’s Book Club enables learning and unlearning in a safe space and is open to the university community. With respect to certain programs and services including mentorship programs and employee resource groups, there needs to be safe spaces to facilitate these resources to ensure the mitigation of possible power imbalances.
Increased funding for Black, Indigenous, and other racialized employees and students was another key sub-theme raised by the Working Groups. Specifically, there is a need to increase the number and value of scholarships and other funding opportunities (e.g., increased budget for professional development; research awards) for racialized individuals.
This is critical for the creation and enhancement of targeted programs and services and overall support for the academic and career advancement of students, staff, and faculty. Moreover, there needs to be greater funding allocated to student needs such as tuition, disability services, and emergency loans. Some Working Groups indicated that funding also be allocated to the creation of spaces for holding cultural events and fostering a community wherein open dialogue can occur.
The Taskforce reiterates a recommendation that emerged from the formal review of the former Office of Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion, as much of the anti-racism work will occur in the Offices of Indigenous Relations and Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism, and these areas require safe spaces/facilities:
[These offices] should have space appropriate for [their mandates] in a location separate from campus police, recognizing the need for traditionally marginalized communities to feel safe talking about their experiences.
The Taskforce recommends that the University commits to funding the programs, services, initiatives, and other activities that have emerged from PART, as these activities are crucial to the anti-racism mission of the University.
Theme 4 | Engagement
The need to ensure the input and inclusion of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized individuals in research, revisions (e.g., to policies), and the development of services and resources was made evident thorough the Working Groups. As such, the need for consultations was highly emphasized within the recommendations. Notably, consultations should ensure meaningful inclusion and relationships built on trust. For example, one of the groups emphasized the importance of working with Indigenous individuals and communities to ensure policies on conducting research with Indigenous communities and/or on Indigenous land are rooted in social justice.
The Taskforce recommends that the Offices of Indigenous Relations (IR) and EDI-R create guidelines on when and how to properly engage and consult with Indigenous and other racialized communities in a bid to achieve an equitable academic, research and campus environment.
Theme 5 | Training
Across all Working Groups, training emerged as a common theme among recommendations – specifically in relation to anti-racism, anti-oppression, equity, diversity, and inclusion. While training typically seeks to provide a general awareness surrounding anti-racism, some Working Groups denoted specific topics such as Social Determinants of Health, De-escalation Training and Crisis Prevention, and Racial and Intergenerational Trauma. Training on and/or increased awareness of Indigenous research and non-Western methodologies, and important considerations when supporting projects that work with Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities were also noted as key. This training targets a variety of audiences, including (but not limited to): senior leadership, administration, faculty, staff, students, committees, and the broader community.
The Taskforce recommends that the Offices of IR and EDI-R continue to assess the training needs of the University community and develop anti-racism training programs that create a supportive, inclusive, and equitable campus environment where students, faculty, and staff can learn, grow, and thrive.
Theme 6 | Campus Representation
The Taskforce commends the University for addressing the systemic underrepresentation of Indigenous and Black faculty on its campus with the launch of its cluster hiring initiative that will see 10 Indigenous and 10 Black faculty members welcomed on campus. However, underrepresentation remains a problem at all levels. Representation is critical as the University should uphold supports and services that reflect the diversity of the community it serves.
While many Working Groups agree that there needs to be greater campus representation generally, some have emphasized the need to increase representation among various boards and committees to maintain more equitable processes and practices. Specific to students, Working Groups have also indicated that academic, student, and career advisors need to better reflect the student body to provide more culturally sensitive services and supports.
The Taskforce recommends that the University ensures the inclusive and intentional recruitment, hiring and retention of more Black, Indigenous, and other racialized individuals into faculty, staff, and leadership positions.
Theme 7 | Communications
The theme of communications was consistent across all Working Groups. Working Groups indicated the need to ensure effective, accessible, and clear communications to Black, Indigenous and other racialized students, staff, and faculty at the institution. This is significant as many of these individuals remain unaware of the necessary supports and resources available to them. Notably, the Working Groups suggested the importance of resource lists which may include culturally competent service providers for students or an inventory of courses that emphasize Black and Indigenous content.
Furthermore, to streamline communications, the Working Groups proposed the development of a central information resource/hub, which would include information targeted for Black, Indigenous, and other racialized students, staff, and faculty. Working Groups also indicated the need to update existing resource lists and databases to ensure they have culturally relevant and appropriate supports and services are listed.
It should be noted that the University has already developed an anti-racism website and also has two offices (the Office of Indigenous Relations and the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-racism) that already act as information centers for some of these resources and can also be the focal point for other existing and emerging resources.
The Taskforce recommends that the Offices of IR and EDI-R should develop a communication strategy (including a central information resource/hub) to ensure the effective, accessible, and clear communications to Black, Indigenous, and other racialized students, staff, and faculty at the institution.
Theme 8 | Partnerships
The Working Groups emphasized the need for on-campus departments and units to work collaboratively for anti-racism initiatives to succeed. These include student (e.g., WUSA, GSA), faculty (FAUW), staff (e.g., UWSA) and other advocacy (e.g., BFC, RAISE) groups. Furthermore, partnerships with external organizations were proposed to increase access to health and wellness service and supports (e.g., with community services), and mentorship and other academic/professional development opportunities (e.g., the ONYX initiative, Black Talents).
In pursuing partnerships with external organizations (e.g., co-op employers), the University should ensure that it maintains a preference for those with EDI and anti-racism mandates and values.
The Taskforce recommends that the EDI-R create a screening tool that can be used to evaluate whether the mission and values of an external organization are aligned and consistent with the University’s anti-racism vision and mission. The results of these assessments should serve as an important factor to consider when making decisions on prospective partnerships.
Theme 9 | Data Governance
The Taskforce commends the University for implementing its equity data initiative through the efforts of its Equity Data Advisory Group, as members of the community have repeatedly called for the collection and analysis of disaggregated data to inform policies, to develop equity guidelines and processes, and to track the representation of equity deserving groups on campus. Although these are important components for understanding how the University is progressing in addressing systemic racism, these processes (i.e., data collection, data analysis, and data management) should be guided by principles of ethical data governance that build trust with the communities being served. These communities need to be involved in the data collection process – helping to design the assessment tools (e.g., they need to value the questions that are being considered) and acting as partners in data stewardship. Ethical data governance can help alleviate concerns from these communities and advance fairness.
The Taskforce recommends that the University develops guidelines for ethical data governance respecting principles for administrative and research data. These guidelines are to be adapted for various purposes (e.g., the annual equity data survey, the research enterprise, the Data Management Strategy) and across various areas (e.g., the Office of Research, the Library) to ensure alignment across portfolios, while respecting differential utility.