Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at SFU: September in Review

September 25, 2023

SFU continues our work to create a diverse, inclusive and inviting atmosphere for all community members. Here is an overview of the recent initiatives undertaken by the Equity Office in September.

Safety on campus

As we kick off the new academic term, President Joy Johnson highlighted the importance of personal safety on campus and the university's efforts to support the community, especially in the midst of local and global events that impact the safety, wellbeing and sense of belonging for equity groups and us all. We remain steadfast in upholding our SFU values, including Equity and Belonging and our related plans. It was also emphasized that it is our collective responsibility to ensure a safe, inclusive, and respectful environment for all members of the SFU community.

See Joy’s message to the community: How SFU is enhancing personal safety on campus

Second Special Programs Application Approved 

The B.C. Human Rights Commissioner (BCHRC) has approved SFU’s Special Program Application, allowing the university to conduct a limited and preferential hiring of at least 15 Indigenous staff. This follows the BCHRC’s approval this summer of another Special Programs approval at SFU for hiring Black staff and tenure-track faculty. SFU’s application process for an additional targeted hiring of Indigenous faculty is underway.  

Read more: SFU passes key milestone to improve Indigenous staff representation

Days of Significance

In September, the university recognized several important occasions including World Suicide Prevention Day, Consent Matters and International Day of Peace. September is also a month with several religious observances including the Jewish High Holidays, Jain Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. At the end of the month, we will recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day.

Saturday, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day. It is a time for reflection, a time to come together in the spirit of reconciliation, and a time to honour those who have been impacted by Canada’s residential school system. This year is again particularly poignant for us to reflect and stay steadfast on the journey towards Truth and Reconciliation with the news of the recoveries and identification so far of 158 children who died at or because of their attendance at three former residential school sites and one former hospital within Sto:lo Nation. 

SFU will commemorate Orange Shirt Day during the week of September 25 across our three campuses with a number of activities and events. The activities will conclude with a highly anticipated event on October 4 with Orange Shirt Day founder and an SFU 2023 Honorary Degree recipient, Phyllis Webstad. 

Community of Practice

The EDI Community of Practice kicked off for the fall semester, thanks to organizer and designer: Dr. Paola Ardiles Gambos and the co-design team led by RADIUS. This meeting was an opportunity for the community to reconnect, meet new members and review equity-centered design. The community of practice is composed of staff and faculty leads/practitioners who work to create equity-centered prototypes or solutions in their faculties and departments across the university that can support and inform institutional EDI work. Learn more.

Accessibility Committee 

In response to the Accessible BC Act, and to meet the goals of the Equity Compass, SFU has created its first pan-university Accessibility Committee, which kicked off on September 27th. Work will be underway for the formulation of SFU’s Accessibility Action Plan with the help of the committee. A full list of our new members and information about the Accessibility Committee can be found here.

Memorandum of Understanding with Simon Fraser Student Society

Our Office has been informed that the SFSS leadership were unable to complete the review of the draft MOU over the summer. We continue to actively pursue completion of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) that allows SFU to intervene on incidents within SFSS that affect individual students under SFU policies GP 47 (Bullying and Harassment) and GP 18 (Human Rights) as well as GP 44 (Sexual Violence and Misconduct Prevention, Education and Support) as previously established. 

EDI-related supports are available

We recognize that and local and global current affairs and incidents continue to be challenging. In just a few months, events such as a hate-motivated, gender-based attack at the University of Waterloo, the regressive U.S. Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action in higher education and other legal challenges against advances to equity, the anti-2S/LGBTQIA+ protests, the recent tensions between Canada and India and the recovery of the children who passed away as a result of the residential school system in Sto:lo nation – these many events have impacts on the mental health and wellbeing for many in our community. If you are in need of support, please see our list of EDI specific supports and services and reach out if you need help. 

For all other supports, see our newly launched community support page. 


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