Dear faculty, staff and students,
The Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies expresses, in no uncertain terms, its solidarity with communities around the world in protesting racism, racial injustice, and inequality. We denounce any form of violence against Black or racialized persons and their communities, including the police brutality perpetrated against them here in Canada and abroad. We recognize that such violence inflicts physical, psychological, and emotional damage and trauma, often with lethal consequences.
In making this statement, we recognize our slow response to the outrage and anger being expressed about the killing of George Floyd, and the pent-up frustration triggered by yet one more death tied to systemic racism and inequity in our societies.
Our delay in offering a statement of position was a mistake, and I apologize personally for our lack of presence during this difficult time. We remain sincere and resolved to support Black persons in all ways available.
Further, we recognize that the subsequent call-to-action sent to graduate students, staff, and faculty put an unfair burden on those individuals who have been acutely affected by racism. Asking them for solutions at a time of pain and suffering was ill-conceived.
As the Chair of Department for Recreation and Leisure Studies, I am deeply sorry for any hardship our actions may have brought to Black and racialized persons, and their communities.
Despite our firm commitment to social justice, we acknowledge we need to offer more than empty statements about fighting anti-Black racism in the community, at our university, and in its workplace and classrooms. We need to commit to specific actions.
The Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies acknowledges the under-representation of Black scholars, students, and the implicit biases that affect our teaching, research, service, hiring, and promotion. It is an institutional concern that must be remedied.
In short, our Department must do better. We are complicit in systemic conditions that persist.
However, at this time, it is our role to listen, learn, and then support with action.
Accordingly, we will address the inequities that exist by engaging the knowledge and expertise from Black voices, including staff, students, faculty, and alumni to lead the process in developing concrete ways to combat institutionalized racism and anti-Black violence in our community, as well as address the inequity in our department and beyond.
In addition, we will seek guidance from independent, external sources to help craft actionable goals for change. Their oversight is our commitment to increasing accountability, transparency, and communication to our community as we move forward with our initiatives.
This effort will take planning, but it will begin immediately.
I appeal to our community for patience as we craft a concrete plan to put these values into action, and I will keep everyone apprised of our progress and ongoing efforts.
Chair, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies