Black Lives Matter Statement by the Archaeology Graduate Student Caucus

June 11, 2020

Archaeology Graduate Student Caucus
Faculty of Environment

June 11, 2020

We as the Archaeology Graduate Student Caucus, along with the Archaeology Student Society, at Simon Fraser University support the Black Lives Matter movement. We are appalled by any violence that is rooted in racism and a denial of common humanity. We want to acknowledge the colonial violence that has allowed our three campuses to be located in Burnaby, Vancouver, and Surrey, which are situated on the lands of the Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam), kʷikʷəƛ̓ əm (Kwikwetlem), Katzie, Kwantlen, Qayqayt, Semiahmoo, and Tsawwassen Nations, and numerous Stó:lō Nations. We also want to acknowledge our own privilege as academics and students who profit from this history.

In the US, a large-scale human rights movement has been sparked by the murder of George Floyd. His murder is one in a long line of atrocities perpetrated by police against the black community. Violence at the hands of police is a symptom of systemic racial injustice, white supremacy, and colonialism. The issue of systemic racism towards Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) is one that exists not only in the US, but here in Canada. Canada is a society built upon white supremacy and colonialism. Many BIPOC have been victims of police brutality or died while interacting with police in Canada including, recently Regis Korchinski-Paque, Dafonte Miller, Chantel Moore, Rodney Levi, and Chief Allan Adam. These are the names we know, there are undoubtedly many more.

Systemic racism and the marginalization of BIPOC have immediate and long-term harmful effects. Archaeology has contributed to building and maintaining the status quo of white supremacy and colonialism. Archaeologists have helped to create and perpetuate the notion of race as a biological reality. The Archaeology Graduate Student Caucus maintains that race is not founded in biology but is a product of colonialist oppression. We know that racism has direct biological and social consequences, which harm Black and Indigenous communities.

Silence is compliance. We, as archaeologists and academics, need to do better.

The Archeology Graduate Student Caucus commits to the following actionable items:

  1. Acknowledge the role academia has and continues to play in upholding systems of racial oppression by lobbying our department for increased and improved teaching about white supremacy, racial injustice, and colonialism in archaeology undergraduate and graduate courses.
  2. Acknowledge the lack of diversity within the AGSC. We will work with our department to make the graduate program a more welcoming space to promote enrolment of BIPOC. We will apply for funds to host a series of seminars on how to better educate ourselves as allies in academia.
  3. Commit to supporting all organizations on campus that support students and communities who are marginalized in our society. We will communicate and disseminate the available resources from these organizations.
  4. To support BIPOC students within our department, the Archaeology Graduate Student Caucus will create a resource guide. This guide will have information on university groups, as well as larger community-based organizations.
  5. Amend the Archaeology Graduate Student Caucus constitution to establish a permanent Equity Officer executive position in the Archaeology Graduate Student Caucus to act as an advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion, within the department and liaison with other groups dedicated to social justice. Encourage the Graduate Student Society to establish a similar director to act as a watchdog for oppressive behaviour within the SFU community as a whole.

Black Lives Matter. We stand with Black communities, as well as all those impacted by racism and
violence. We call for systemic reforms in criminal justice, education, and other spheres essential to
establishing a world where equal rights and opportunities exist for all.

Archaeology Graduate Student Caucus

Suggested resources:

SFU Statement

Black Lives Matter Vancouver Calls on the City to Dismantle Systems of Violence and Oppression (Google Docs)


PDF available here.