President's Speech at We Are All SFU event

February 02, 2017

Andrew Petter
President and Vice-Chancellor
Simon Fraser University

Hello and welcome. 

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Kwikwetlem First Nations on whose traditional territories we are privileged to gather.

Thank you for coming out today to reaffirm our shared values and to demonstrate our common commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion.

I have been heartened by the overwhelmingly positive response to my statement earlier this week, and I would like to thank you for liking, sharing, tweeting – and, most especially, for the support you’ve shown your fellow students and colleagues in recent days.

It is important in these troubling times that we show our solidarity with those threatened by recent events, and it is inspiring to see this response from the SFU community.

Universities have a special role to play in advancing human rights, freedom and international understanding.

I am particularly mindful of that role here in Freedom Square, where students gathered in SFU’s early days to voice their concerns and to speak out in favour of academic freedom.  

When nations seek to erect walls, deny truths and target people based on their religion, ethnicity or nationality, universities have a responsibility to respond by:

  • Building bridges and strengthening civil society;  
  • Promoting evidence-based dialogue and deliberation on issues of public policy; and
  • Supporting religious freedom, social equality and cross-cultural engagement.     

SFU is proud to be a globally engaged university and to welcome students, faculty, staff, and visitors from around the world.

Our international community members bring amazing talents and wonderful diversity of knowledge, experiences and perspectives. 

And, in doing so, they make our university a better place for learning and living.

SFU is committed to creating, nurturing and maintaining a welcoming and supportive environment for all.

This is a commitment shared by university administration, faculty, staff and students.

To speak on behalf of our undergraduate student body, I invite Larissa Chen, President of the Simon Fraser Student Society, to come forward and share a few words.

[Larissa Chen’s remarks]

Thank you, Larisa. I now welcome Chantel Turpin, Director of University Relations for the Graduate Student Society, to say a few words on behalf of graduate students.

[Chantal Turpin’s remarks]

Thank you, Chantal. Faculty Association President Daniel Laitsch will now share a few words on behalf of SFU faculty.

[Daniel Laitsch’s remarks]

Thank you, Larissa, Chantal and Dan for reaffirming our shared values of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Our commitment to these values is even more critical in light of the shootings of 19 people at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre last Sunday, where six people lost their lives.

The victims were parents, civil servants and academics, many of whom had left their countries of origin to seek better lives in Canada.

We condemn this violence and stand together in our commitment to counter intolerance. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

I invite you to please join me in a moment of silence.

[Moment of silence]

Thank you. I’d like to remind everyone of our on-campus resources. If you are in need of help, please do not hesitate to contact:

  • International Services for Students;
  • Health and Counselling Services;
  • Interfaith Centre, and/or;
  • Personal Safety and International Travel Safety units.

All of these groups are here today, so please check out their tables for more information.

Thank you again for being here to demonstrate your determination to ensure SFU remains a truly welcoming, inclusive and globally-engaged university.

Our greatest strength is each other – our collective energies, our shared commitments, our common resolve to foster a university environment in which all members of our community feel valued and supported.

Not just today, but every day!