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Distant, Not Disengaged programming pause

June 04, 2020

DND Team
The SFU Public Square team (Janet Webber, Seth Erais, Chloe Sjuberg, Doug Hamilton-Evans, Geoff Smith, Sakshi Taneja and Arnav Dada), the SFU Centre for Dialogue and CityHive teams

The views and opinions expressed in SFU Public Square's blogs are those of the authors, and they do not necessarily reflect the official position of Simon Fraser University or SFU Public Square, or any other affiliated institutions in any way.

Distant, Not Disengaged was created as an experimental and innovative programming collaboration from SFU Public Square, CityHive and the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue to meet the urgent issues and opportunities arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Community connection, courage to stand up to the status quo in times of crisis, and relevance to local and global events are at the core of our event series. Each week the online meeting format prioritizes the opportunity for attendees to engage in small group discussions to express concerns, learn about ways to take action on pressing issues, and be with others, albeit in a digital environment.

We are committed to staying true to those values, and in light of this moment, we have made the decision to briefly step back from hosting our Distant, Not Disengaged sessions. Essential conversations and actions on racism, anti-Blackness, systemic violence and police brutality are occurring across Canada, the US and beyond. Distant, Not Disengaged should not, and will not, take up space now. Our programming pause is not silence or inaction. Rather, we are creating space to consider and plan what can be done to ensure we move forward with these events in a good way. We are committed to convening important conversations that engage fully with the issues and ensure the emotional safety of speakers and participants. We will be working to ensure our own internal organizational structures and engagement practices, and our personal and professional relationships, contribute to dismantling anti-Blackness, Indigenous discrimination and systemic racism. 

We ask that you join us in spending our programming hiatus centering Black voices. Please follow our social channels for updates on how we are making that happen:

@cityhivevan | @SFUPublicSquare | @SFUDialogue

Our next steps:

  • The Distant, Not Disengaged collaborators will use our standing staff planning and event time to read, discuss and offer anti-racist resources. 
  • We will work to create more anti-racist and equitable conversation spaces for guest speakers and attendees. 
  • Members of our team have personally donated to Black-led organizations and anti-racist organizations to ensure that our words are supported by concrete actions.

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