It’s Long Overdue - Moving The Dial on Racism & Discrimination

June 19, 2020

As anti-racism protests and violence continue around the world, I’m reminded of my own privilege and the injustices people are facing each and every day in the country I call home. Yet I remain hopeful - hopeful that real action and change will result from the outpouring of frustration, sadness and disbelief we are all witnessing, as well as solutions and advocacy for systemic change.

In the Canadian context, and certainly those of us who live and work south of the Fraser River, anti-Black, Indigenous and ethnic minority racism and discrimination faced by the LGBTQ2S+ community reminds us that we must use our voices to stand up to these injustices - the actions and advocacy we take now can and will lead to meaningful change in oppressive systems and structures.

So what can the SFU community do? Where do we begin?

It starts with educating and re-educating ourselves about a problem that is hardly new, that is systemic to our institutions and is part of our country’s history. If you’ve not already done so, I’d encourage you to explore SFU’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) website (including the resource list ), as well as SFU Reconciliation and the call to actions outlined in the Walk This Path With Us report. To add, SFU’s incoming President, Joy Johnson, is leading the university’s EDI efforts. With this effort, it will require all of us to make time to share our thoughts and ideas on how to address these issues at our own institution. In the coming weeks, I will be working with diverse members of our campus community to develop a series of dialogues designed to better understand - and in a positive and sustained way – help ‘move the dial’ on racism and discrimination.

We are also reminded that this is an important month for recognizing and celebrating diversity in our community. This weekend is  World Refugee Day (June 20th) and National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21st) , and next weekend is Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27th) and Surrey Pride 2020. I hope you, your family and friends will take the time to tune in online and join in on the many virtual events taking place locally and across Canada.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the many members of the Surrey campus community (Nada El Masry, Jen Marchbank and Treena Derrick to name a few) for their academic, research and community engagement EDI contributions over the years - I greatly admire and I‘m humbled by your work and it’s making a difference.

In closing, I’d like to say that I’m heartened by the care and kindness the Surrey campus community has shown each other these past few weeks. I appreciate that we will continue to have a difficult journey ahead of us in addressing these and other EDI issues, but I know together that we will rise to the challenge.

Thank you.