Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,
I am writing to you today to acknowledge an important milestone for the university - one year ago, Queen’s became a signatory to the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education. The Charter is a call to action prompting the adoption of practices that will foster Black Flourishing, Inclusive Excellence, Mutuality, and Accountability. Over 40 colleges and universities have signed the Charter and pledged to implement the principles it articulates. It is imperative that as an institution, we take this commitment seriously and ensure that our pledge is realized in action.
Our commitment to making Queen’s an inclusive community has never been stronger. We continue to build on the work of the Black community and all marginalized communities who, since the establishment of the university, have led efforts to make Queen’s a place of welcome. Adopting the Scarborough Charter involves acknowledging the considerable intellectual, political, economic and cultural contributions Black students, staff, and faculty make to society. At Queen’s, this also means acknowledging Black community contributions to the flourishing of the university of which they have been a vital part since its earliest beginnings. We must address the fact that these contributions to the university have not been well supported; they have developed in the face of systemic racism and in spite of the institution, not because of it. As a Charter signatory, we commit to ending anti-Black racism and honouring ongoing work in support of Black thriving as part of the institutional mission itself. In this, we all have a role to play.
Since our signing of the Charter last year, a number of significant events have taken place:
- Following the first meeting of the Inter-Institutional Forum in May 2022, four Queen’s working groups - addressing areas of Research, Community Engagement, Black Community Representation and Inclusion, and Teaching, Learning, and Student Success – began reviewing institutional programs and practices to identify our strengths and gaps in relation to the Charter. You can learn more about the working groups here.
- We are fostering closer relationships with Black student organizations and learning how to better recognize and resource the critical work they do to create safe and supportive spaces for their peers and in furtherance of the university’s decolonial and anti-racist mission.
- On October 21st, I was privileged to attend the inauguration event for Black Studies at Queen’s. The establishment of the Black Studies minor is the result of the efforts of many Black students, staff, and faculty over several years and the university is fortunate to be home to this program. Its emphasis on liberation, accountability, creativity, and cooperation - foundational to the discipline of Black Studies itself – will provide a strong anchor for Queen’s advancement of Charter commitments, as well as to intersecting Indigenization and anti-oppression initiatives.
- Across the post-secondary sector, work continues on the development of a Secretariat that will support the work of the Inter Institutional Steering Committee and foster the development of sound practices promoting Black inclusion. We feel privileged to be part of a pan-institutional Scarborough Charter community and anticipate future opportunities to participate in rich, collaborative conversation with sector colleagues.
I look forward to further discussion with community members about a plan to build on our strengths, address gaps, and embed the Charter’s commitments into our institutional mission. Embracing the Charter is not merely a task to be completed but rather, an ethic which must be woven into our everyday actions and the fabric of our community. The Charter is leading the way for us in creating real and sustainable change, enabling us to be the institution we aspire to be – one that welcomes and celebrates all of its members and provides a home for diverse intellectual thought, growth, innovation and positive impact.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor