Progress Reports: Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity, Indigenization at Queen's
November 24, 2020
In 2020, anti-oppression and anti-racism activism has energized sweeping calls for change and driven new progress toward greater social justice around the globe. The campus community joined this push, particularly students, demanding decisive action from the university to address systemic and other forms of racism.
In response, Queen’s has intensified its efforts and, to ensure greater accountability, pledged to share frequent updates on its work to create a welcoming campus that reflects diverse identities, cultures, and perspectives.
As part of this work, Queen’s has released its yearly reports on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Indigeneity (EDII), and the progress of the Truth and Reconciliation Task Force (TRCTF) (pdf). Both reports offer an honest look at issues facing the university and its community, and highlight important efforts and initiatives aimed at delivering on renewed and strengthened commitments to EDII.
“Having recently concluded my first year as principal at Queen’s, I have been reflecting on what has been a year of far-reaching change and considerable turmoil,” writes Principal Patrick Deane, in his introduction to the 2019/2020 EDII annual report. “The whole university must stand in solidarity with marginalized groups and with all who are working to create an institution where every member can find a sense of belonging, and where systems of exclusion, racism, and discrimination are things of the past.”
Progress on EDII
In August 2020, Principal Deane and more than 20 Queen’s senior leaders issued the university’s Declaration of Commitment to Address Systemic Racism, acknowledging the need for the campus community to understand and confront structural prejudices, pledging to undertake a range of actions beginning immediately. The declaration builds from, and expands on, tangible actions to advance EDII undertaken in recent years, including work that reached significant milestones in 2019/2020.
New working groups and staff positions were established to support equity and inclusion work. Recruitment of faculty from equity-seeking groups continued at rates above workforce availability in many areas. Resources and initiatives were established to embed anti-oppression and anti-racism content into academic programs, and new support services were created for students from equity-seeking groups. Efforts have been numerous and wide-ranging and are set to continue unabated.
“I am proud of what has been accomplished but also acutely aware that there is still so much more to do,” says Principal Deane. “This report serves as a promise of what we can achieve when we work together, supporting one another. It is my greatest hope that in the not too distant future that promise will be our reality.”
Read the 2019/20 Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity, and Indigeneity Annual Report (pdf) in its entirety.
Advancing Truth and Reconciliation
In 2016, Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Task Force released 25 recommendations for sustained institutional change designed to strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities, promote deeper understanding of Indigenous histories, knowledge systems, and experiences, and create a campus that values and reflects Indigenous perspectives. Work to fulfill these recommendations continued this year, all of which is highlighted in the 2019/2020 Yakwanastahentéha Aankenjigemi (Extending the Rafters) implementation report.
“It has been a challenging and difficult year on many fronts,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation). “Indigenous, Black, racialized, and LGBTQ2S communities, including individuals on our campus, have been faced with overt and violent racism, hatred, and discrimination. At the same time, we have experienced immense support as evidenced by the solidarity march and the multitude of statements of support. However, the time for statements has now passed and we are working towards actions to combat racism and violence, to create a culture of equity and inclusion on our campus.”
This year’s report covers the latest progress in implementing the recommendations and underlines new and upcoming initiatives and resources. Among the most notable highlights are new bursaries for Indigenous students, new committees and working groups that extended to all corners of the university, and funding for Indigenous-focused learning and initiatives. There are also over 40 faculty members at Queen’s, across all faculties, who are conducting Indigenous research or working in related areas of study.
The report concludes with a look ahead at wide-ranging efforts currently and soon underway.
“Each day we all have something to be thankful for, so I encourage everyone to consider that as we face these challenges,” says Associate Vice-Principal Hill. “I also encourage that we all work together for the greater good.”