Disrupting colonial narratives, equity, diversity and inclusion

Last updated: August 27th, 2020

SFU is committed to Reconciliation which is led by SFU’s Aboriginal Reconciliation Council. You can find more information including calls to action here. SFU is also committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion. This emerging work can be found here. The Sustainability Office is actively working on meaningful contributions to this institution-wide work. Below is our living statement and our current actions. 

The Sustainability Office is committed to disrupting colonial narratives and addressing reconciliation, equity, diversity, and inclusion in its work. We operate under the belief that it is critical to consider the economic and social wellbeing of communities and ecosystems in the development of sustainability solutions. In particular, we understand that the fight to address the climate crisis (our focus for the next five years) requires a radical justice lens. This means ensuring that SFU’s climate efforts integrate multiple ways of doing, thinking, and caring. SFU’s climate work must be done through reciprocal relationships alongside the university’s other equity-driven activity and efforts. 

The mainstream environmental movement has contributed to the dispossession of Indigenous Lands and cultural practices through conservation efforts aimed at protecting a pristine environment from human use and that this notion of an untouched environment is fundamentally contrary to Indigenous understandings of land stewardship and reciprocal relationships with the land and all beings. Therefore, we also acknowledge that structural changes to our climate action work are needed in order to approach this work in respectful and reciprocal ways. We do not claim to know what the best way forward in this work is, but we do know that it must be done in community, in reciprocal relationships, and in dialogue with each other.  

We also recognize that the mainstream environmental movement has contributed to environmental injustice for all marginalized peoples. Therefore, these marginalized voices and communities need to be centered in solutions development. 

The Sustainability Office’s efforts to learn, unlearn, and relearn: 

Since 2019, the Sustainability Office has been doing an internal decolonization and reconciliation learning process which includes:

The Sustainability Office’s actions to address reconciliation, equity, diversity and inclusion:

  • For office culture, human resources, and team planning:
    • Identifying and carrying out best practices in hiring for greater diversity (by September 2020); and
    • Encouraging and supporting staff in their attendance and participation in anti-racism and Black justice events during work hours (ongoing).
  • For the university-wide sustainability efforts:
    • Integrating BIPOC justice and perspectives into the SFU 2025 Advisory Council design in addition to the currently planned Indigenous and accessibility integrations (by December 2020);
    • Building strong reciprocal relationships with BIPOC groups on campus and support their work (groups identified by December 2020); and
    • Integrating climate justice and anti-racism principles into the SFU 2025 working group terms of reference and action planning by January 2021.

The actions listed above are intended as a starting point for the Sustainability Office’s ongoing learning on reconciliation, equity, diversity, and inclusion. By sharing these resources and informing you of tthis approach, we hope to support other SFU community members who are looking for ways to contribute to reconciliation, equity, diversity, and inclusion and share the resources we have found helpful as we have already been benefactors of the hard work of others across the university.