Declaration of commitment to address systemic racism

Declaration of commitment to address systemic racism

Queen's University senior leadership and deans, led by Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane, pledge immediate actions to confront discrimination.

August 12, 2020


A message from Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane:

Dear Queen's community,

Just over one year ago, I began my tenure as principal of Queen’s University. When I arrived, I told the community that I wished to engage in a conversation about our aspirations for the institution’s future. I wanted to have a frank dialogue with our students, staff and faculty about the current state of the university, our challenges and our opportunities. It has been a revealing year, in part because we have been tested by numerous crises. The obvious crisis is the current health pandemic but the more insidious and potentially destructive crisis involves an issue that is neither new nor unexpected: racism and other forms of oppression which persist despite the efforts of many individuals over the years, and which continue to deeply affect our institution, as they do the systems and formations of our society at large. Recent events have brought this crisis to the forefront. There has been a rallying cry for change on our campus and demands on leaders, including myself, to take real action to address the practices and structures at Queen’s that feed this systemic problem. 

The recent calls for administrative leadership on anti-racism, from staff, faculty, and especially students, have been heard clearly and action will be taken. To this end, and with guidance from our Associate Vice Principals, Stephanie Simpson and Janice Hill, I have prepared a declaration, on behalf of the university’s administration, to address racism, systemic as well as individual. All members of the senior leadership have endorsed the declaration as a signal of their commitment to take action to root out the causes of racism within the university and to ensure that those who ​experience racism and related forms of injustice are treated equitably and are able to participate in the life of the university, fully and authentically.

Queen’s University Administration’s
Declaration of Commitment to Address Systemic Racism

Persistent racism, systemic as well as individual, has brought our society to a crisis point. Queen’s University is not immune to this pervasive and destructive force which, at its most pernicious, silently influences the shape and functioning of our culture and institutions, entrenching longstanding abuses of power that have diminished the humanity of Black, Indigenous and racialized people. Right now, it is imperative that all parts of the Queen’s community understand, confront, and do what is necessary to alter the deeply entrenched behaviours and structures that perpetuate such inequities. Frank and difficult conversations will be required, not for the purpose of laying blame, but rather to help us reflect on and then undertake the hard work of change. Each of us has a role to play in addressing racism. We must ​resist forever the kind of binary thinking in which one group’s right to opportunity and equitable treatment is perceived to be dependent on the disadvantaging of another. Such an attitude will only guarantee a continuing decline in ​our ability to attract and retain the best and brightest minds among diverse communities, and, eventually, in our ability to make a meaningful contribution to the improvement of humanity and our world. As leaders of Queen’s University, we commit ourselves to addressing systemic racism through the critical examination of our own roles in its perpetuation and in the practices and policies that may support persistent inequities. To this end, we pledge to undertake the following:

  • Actively support the efforts of students, staff, faculty, and alumni who are engaged in anti-racism and anti-oppression work on campus, including the work of the Aboriginal Council and the University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (UCARE);
  • Continue to work to address systemic racism in the educational and classroom practices of the institution and in particular, within our primary activities of teaching and research;
  • Continue to close staff and faculty gaps in representation for women, people with disabilities, Indigenous peoples and Black and racialized people at all levels of the institution;
  • Identify barriers within university procedures to the recruitment and admission of racialized students, particularly Black and Indigenous students, and enhance efforts and initiatives to diversify the student population;
  • Identify and eliminate gaps in support and resources for 2SLGBTQ+ students, staff and faculty;
  • Increase financial support and promote and centralized academic supports for under-represented students;
  • Review and strengthen our institutional policies and procedures for addressing acts of racist violence and hatred, with an emphasis on trauma-informed care for those victimized;
  • Provide additional anti-racism training and education for all staff and faculty;
  • Increase mental health supports for students, staff, and faculty affected by racism on campus;
  • Introduce campus climate metrics to measure campus culture, progress, and impact of anti-racism initiatives;
  • Incorporate EDII as a major focus of the university’s vision for the future to be integrated into every leader’s annual goals and planned initiatives.

The items noted are for immediate action and some are already underway. The list is not exhaustive; rather it is an indication of our ​intention to ​act boldly and swiftly to continue to enact the changes that can be made in the short term. The work will continue to evolve and the broader project of creating an anti-racism culture at Queen's will take time. There is much to do and there are many issues to be addressed. We will work tirelessly to unite our community, improving the experience of every member so that all may enjoy the benefits of our institution equally. 


Patrick Deane, Principal & Vice-Chancellor
Stephanie Simpson, Associate Vice-Principal (Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion)
Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives & Reconciliation)   
Mark Green, Provost & Vice-Principal (Academic)
Karen Bertrand, Vice-Principal (Advancement)
Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations)
Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance & Administration)
Lon Knox, University Secretary & Corporate Counsel
Lisa Newton, University Counsel
Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations & Inclusion)
Kim Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research)
Brenda Brouwer, Interim Dean, Smith School of Business
Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts & Science
Kevin Deluzio, Dean, Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science
Sandra den Otter, Vice-Provost (International)
Hugh Horton, Vice-Provost and Executive Director, Bader International Study Centre
Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean, Faculty of Education
Jane Philpott, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences
John Pierce, Vice-Provost (Teaching & Learning)
Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies
Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost (Student Affairs and Dean of Students)
Michael Vandenburg, Interim Vice-Provost and University Librarian
Mark Walters, Dean, Faculty of Law

This message is also available on the Principal and Vice-Chancellor's website.