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Celebrating Black History Month
February is Black History Month—a time for us to celebrate the extraordinary contributions of Black Canadians.
I want to take a moment to especially acknowledge the outstanding work of Black faculty, staff and students at Simon Fraser University. As just one example of a project I learned about recently, I loved reading about the un/settled art display at SFU’s Belzberg library and its celebration of Black thought and creativity. Thank you to all of the Black community members who bring so much to our university.
This February, community members across the university and our equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) partners are holding events and sharing resources that can help us honour the history and contributions of Black people in our communities. I am committed to listening to and lifting up Black voices, not just this month, but every month. I hope you will join me in doing the same.
Attend an event
- Moving the needle from equity to justice | Feb. 4 | Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion
- SFU’s partnership with the CCDI allows faculty and staff to access all CCDI webinars for free. Simply indicate that you work for a CCDI employer partner during the registration process.
- Roundtable on the topic of Black Lives Matter in the workplace | Feb. 11 | Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion
- Queer Teachings from Black Lives Matter | Feb. 17 | Pride at Work Canada
- SFU’s partnership with Pride at Work Canada allows faculty and staff to access this webinar for free. Simply indicate that you work for Simon Fraser University during the registration process.
- An un/settling event: Readings & Reflections on Black Art, Identity & Place | Feb. 17 | SFU Library, SFU Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology, SFU Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences & SFU English Department
- A Conversation with Afua Cooper | Feb. 25 | SFU President’s Dream Colloquium
- Black Italians and Digital Culture in Contemporary Italy | Feb. 26 | SFU’s Institute for the Humanities & SFU’s Vancity Office for Community Engagement
Anti-racist learning resources
- SFU’s list of resources and calls to action against anti-Black racism and violence, published last June, includes a variety of ways to confront and dismantle your biases while taking action against anti-Black racism in your daily life.
- The SFU Library has published a virtual display for Black History Month, featuring books by and about Black Canadians.
- You can also check out the SFU Library’s resource guide to racial justice, which includes toolkits and articles that will help you understand the impacts of structural racism and show you how to support individuals and groups working to achieve racial equity.
Acknowledging there is still work to do
Last December, I heard from many members of the SFU community who shared concerns after an upsetting incident on the Burnaby campus involving a Black SFU alumnus, campus security and the RCMP.
In a statement last month, I shared that an external review of this specific event is currently underway, and results will be shared with the community once they are available. The review is being led by Vancouver-based lawyer Andi MacKay.
This event illustrated the need for additional dialogue regarding institutionalized anti-Black racism at SFU. I’m committed to partnering with Black students, scholars and community members on our campuses and beyond to make SFU more inclusive and equitable for all.
You can visit SFU’s EDI website to learn more about the EDI priorities and commitments I am focused on this year.
These conversations are not always easy, and this work is not easy. It means people have to step up and be prepared to say uncomfortable things to each other, and to hear uncomfortable things. But it also means that we get to move forward together, as a community. And that gives me hope.