Office of Advancement
Office of Advancement

ALTogether Now

Vol. 68 – October 5, 2020

exterior photo of Summerhill building


Karen Bertrand

Getting serious about EDI

By Karen Bertrand, Vice-Principal (Advancement)

A considerable amount of my time has been devoted to thinking about equity, diversity, and inclusion recently. In particular, I had the opportunity to participate in several forums the week of Sept. 21.

• University senior leadership — including the Principal, VPs, AVPs, and Deans — spent an entire afternoon discussing how to bring the Declaration of Commitment to Address Systemic Racism to life.

• Wes Hall, Executive Chairman of the KSS Group of Companies and founder of the BlackNorth Initiative, and sports journalist David Amber presented to a meeting of the National Council of Fund Raising Executives. In his presentation, Wes Hall referenced a report written for the province of Ontario by Mr. Stephen Lewis. I felt compelled to review it, given that it was written in 1992.

• Consultations on the de-naming of Macdonald Hall occupied several discussions.

• The Faculty of Health Sciences announced their EDI Initiatives.

• The search committee for the AVP (Development) met to review the slate of candidates after an exhaustive search that included several strategies aimed at recruiting a diverse pool.

photo of zoom call with Tianna Edwards on screen of laptop• Two continuing education sessions devoted to advancing a discussion about EDI at Queen’s were held during Board of Governors meetings — one of which included our own Tianna Edwards — talking about her lived experiences with racism in Kingston, at Queen’s, and within Advancement.

So what follows is undoubtedly influenced by this focus. It is also notable when we think about the values we hold within the Office of Advancement — including inclusion.

Under the leadership of the Advancing Ideas committee, we are doing a lot to consider the importance of inclusion and how it relates to staff within the Office of Advancement. While ad hoc examples of how we address inclusion in the programs and practices with our external stakeholders do exist, I would suggest that there has been less formal, systematic attention paid to considering if we are as inclusive as we could be with these stakeholders.

As we consider how to bring the values of the Office of Advancement to life, we need to think about how we should evolve programs and practices related to the external stakeholders we work with.

  • Do we proactively plan for guests with different physical abilities — for either in-person or virtual engagements — so that individuals with various physical capacities are able to participate without reservation rather than request accommodations?
  • How do we make our programs and events like Homecoming more plural and less defined by mainstream or traditional norms?
  • Are different perspectives truly welcomed — and embraced — in everything we do?
  • Does the language we use make assumptions about gender and/or sexual orientation?
  • What economic barriers exist for alumni participation in advancement activities?
  • Can reconciliation with Indigenous people become an organic aspect of our programs?

Opportunities exist for us to be more inclusive in all aspects of our business — regardless of the role you fill. So I ask everyone to consider what you can do to make your efforts more inclusive. What changes can you make immediately or over the next month? What changes might take more time? How can you make those changes a priority, and what barriers exist to make those changes that you need to seek help with? And please tell me how I can help.

Moreover, I believe our alumni community can help offset the culture of privilege that Queen’s has been known for. Please share any ideas you have on how that can be implemented.

You can help build an inclusive community for all our stakeholders. If you are not sure where to start, there are a number of resources available through the Queen’s Human Rights and Equity Office.

I have heard that people do not know where the senior administration of the university stands regarding anti-Black racism. So let me be clear. I will be an ally. More than that, I hope to work together with those advancing efforts against racism.

We need to demonstrate support for equity, diversity, inclusion, and Indigeneity with actions — not just words. Inclusion is a value held dear to members of the Office of Advancement. We can all make changes so that all members of our alumni and donor community trust that they are welcomed, that they have been considered, and that they are valued.

It is time to hold ourselves accountable to make these changes.

black and white exterior photo showing gate and pathway infront of building, Kingston Hall.Fun fact

Professors' Walk

The pathway east of University Avenue between Kingston Hall and Kingston Field was formally named in 2008 by Patrick McNally (Sci'39) and Jack McGibbon (Com'43), donors to the University Avenue revitalization project, in honour of professors at Queen's.