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Statement on Anti-Black Racism

June 30, 2020
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We, as members of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Advisory Council, are firmly in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. We are saddened and outraged by the ongoing systemic racism and the violent oppression Black people face around the world. We unequivocally denounce anti-Black racism, police brutality, and all acts of white supremacy. We mourn the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, TeTe Gulley, Tony McDade, and countless others who have lost their lives as a result of white supremacy.

Canada has a long, sordid legacy of perpetrating racism against Black, Indigenous and all people of colour. This includes, but is not limited to: enslavement, exclusionary immigration policies, the Chinese Head Tax, Japanese Canadian internment camps, the colonization and genocide of Indigenous peoples, theft of Indigenous land and resources, attempts to assimilate Indigenous children into the dominant Euro-Christian Society, the residential school system, and the 60s scoop. Canada was built upon racism, white supremacy and colonization. Failing to acknowledge this equates to willfully ignoring the fundamental realities of Canadian society and makes it impossible to meaningfully address it. 

EDI Council members are encouraged by the collective and collaborative opportunities to develop strategies to engage in critical dialogue, community building, and policy shaping which have been emerging globally during this crucial moment. We commit our attention and dedication to catalyzing a socially-just university and community environment rooted in anti-racist policies and practices. We recommend that SFU take the following steps in order to tangibly align itself with anti-racist practices. This will ultimately create a safer, more accessible learning and working environment for all its students, staff, and faculty, especially those facing anti-Black racism and other forms of oppression.

  1. Conduct an institution-wide audit, informed and led by racialized people and other experienced anti-racists. This audit will serve to determine problem areas the university needs to address in terms of policy and practice that impact students, how reports of racism are addressed at SFU, communications policies, instruction standards, hiring policies, etc. Audit findings should be acted upon within one year.
  2. Commit resources to and implement an online, multi-stage anti-oppression orientation training program for all students, staff and faculty. Topics covered will include: anti-racism, colonization, religious oppression, misogyny, white supremacy, homophobia, ableism, classism, etc. This training must be informed and or conducted by people with lived experiences of the forms of oppression addressed.
  3. Work with student services to implement a review process examining structural barriers which prevent access to student funding by students in need who are facing systemic racism and other forms of oppression. 
  4. Create a community-driven internal research fund focused on racism and systemic oppression at SFU and within the post-secondary sector.
  5. Fund an anti-racism, student-centred initiative aimed at developing mechanisms to effectively deal with racist incidents on SFU campuses.  
  6. Work with the SFU community, including unions, faculty associations, student societies, etc. to develop a five-year action plan focused on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion with clearly-established goals and points of accountability.

The EDI Council acknowledges that the work required to transform SFU into an authentically anti-racist and anti-oppressive space will be considerable, difficult, demanding, uncomfortable, and ongoing. We acknowledge that despite best intentions, SFU has a long way to go. We acknowledge the labour and struggle of BIPOC members of the SFU community who have undertaken this work in the past, and the enormous challenges and hardships they have faced in doing so. 

Anyone who would like to contact the EDI Advisory Council in regard to this statement may do so by emailing edi@sfu.ca, with subject line “Attention Advisory Council”.

In solidarity,

Sherryl Bisgrove
Dorothy Christian
Milena Droumeva
William Gill
Maya Gislason
Lindsay Heller
Andrea Jones
Ally Klassen
Nhan Lam
Helen Leung
Jeannie Morgan
Shaheen Nanji
Carman Neustaedter
Sanam Prasad
Samer Rihani
CJ Rowe
Judy Smith
Dal Sohal
Valerie Spicer
Javier Tavitas
Carolyn Tinglin
Wafaa Zaqout

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