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Letters to the editor

 

We need to do better

Thank you for this well written article (“Where truth and reconciliation stand at Canadian universities,” September-October, 2021). It speaks to the essential issues directly and with clarity. As a non-Indigenous scholar who has studied and worked in the discipline of Indigenous Studies for many years, I hope and pray that deep and meaningful change will continue to develop on university campuses across the country. It is long overdue.

Ross Hoffman
Ross Hoffman is professor emeritus in the department of First Nations studies at the University of Northern British Columbia.

 

Creating a welcoming space for racialized students

Tayo Bero’s well-researched article on the challenges universities face as they reckon with colonial legacies and systemic racism “Addressing Anti-Black Racism,” September-October 2021) captures the renewed push for coherent and cohesive responses to the issues. As Tayo points out, impacted community groups are demanding accountability and action. It is not enough to say we are working on it – we must do the work. Western University’s new strategic plan released earlier this year – Towards Western at 150 – speaks candidly of the need for change and commits to address the issues, creating a welcoming space for Black and racialized students to thrive and learn.

As Western’s newly appointed associate vice-president for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), I can report a strong willingness and eagerness to make things right for Black and racialized faculty, staff and students. Some of the incremental but very visible
foundational work underway includes:

  • Developing an EDI Action Network comprised of more than 60 members from across campus who share best practices, support initiatives and act as change agents;
  • Delivering anti-racism training sessions and hosting campus-wide virtual events featuring leaders in EDI and Indigenization;
  • Enhancing reporting avenues, processes and outcomes for complaints of racial discrimination, including the launch of an online tool for reporting racist incidents;
  • Expanding institutional data collection;
  • Establishing metrics to ensure accountability in student, faculty and staff recruitment and representation by racialized people in positions of leadership; and
  • Investing $6 million to support the recruitment of Black and Indigenous faculty members and to develop EDI curriculum across the
    university.

Together, we are engaging with diverse communities and working to embed EDI principles into institutional structure. This important work will help shape Western’s future and ensure it is a welcoming space for everyone.

Opiyo Oloya
Opiyo Oloya is the associate vice-president, EDI, at Western University.