June 2020

Fight Against Anti-Black Racism

June 01, 2020

Respected students,

Black lives are constantly under attack. It is important to acknowledge the continual fight of Black people and Black communities; for their lives, for justice, and for peace. These acts of anti-Black racism are anti-democratic and anti-human. Black Lives Matter is a movement and collective call to action and a necessary response to the abhorrent anti-Black racism that plagues our society.[1] The murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and the countless members who were murdered due to the extrajudicial killings by police has been vicious. I stand in solidarity with grieving Black community members.

Anti-Black racism is in our lecture halls, curriculum, libraries, and offices. Blackness and oppression are synonymous with the operation and legacy of our University. Queen’s University denied Black students from attending the Queen’s School of Medicine from 1918 to 1965 to receive a higher ranking and additional funding.[2] For more than 60 years our mascot was Alfred Pierce; a Black man who was compensated $10 a week to live in a boiler room with a live bear.[3] It should come as no surprise that administration have been quiet during this time of crisis when the very fabric of the Queen’s identity is rooted in anti-Black racism.

My privilege as a white leader on this campus is immeasurable, and as a representative of all students I need to do more to support the BIPOC community. Thank you to the countless BIPOC voices in our community who continue to push for the right to live openly and free of persecution. It is not their job to be educating us, and it is a privilege to have their guidance and action.

To non-Black students and members of the community, now is the time to listen and unlearn. We must go beyond verbal support and help dismantle the structures that reinforce the idea that Black lives are not valued. We need to demand more from our friends, family, leaders, and ourselves. Following this statement is a variety of resources on how you can support Black communities and additional links for non-Black folks that I encourage you to familiarize yourself with.

This statement is in no way the beginning or the end of the struggle of Black students, faculty, and staff within our institution. I would like to thank all of the students who, although not required, took their time to educate me on these matters. As we enter Pride Month, I also encourage students to recognize the reality of the relationship between protesting and inequality. It is and always has been Black, Indigenous, Transgender, and POC that are leading these battles and putting their lives at risk to tackle injustice. 

I will continue conversations and share resources with my peers, call out injustice, use my privilege and position to empower Black voices on our campus and in our community, and fight for the dismantling of institutional frameworks that devalue Black lives. Our support must be unwavering, and we must do better.


Sam Hiemstra
37th Rector Queen’s University

Resources By Student Groups

The AMS Social Issues Commission has a list of anti-Black racism resources on their Instagram.

The Queen’s Black Academic Society has put together a list of tangible actions that can be taken to aid Black folks: https://linktr.ee/queensblackacademic

This is a link to mental health and support events for Black folks: https://linktr.ee/mianatjo

Queen’s Resources and Contacts

Human Rights Advisory Services offers survivor centric and confidential appointment services for individuals who have questions or concerns about human rights at Queen’s. Appointments can be requested by email at hrights@queensu.ca.

Race and Racism at Queen’s is a page on the Human Rights Office that looks at past work done by Queen’s, definitions of discrimination and harassment, as well as resources on accommodations and various reports.

The Human Rights and Equity Office has provided a list of educational training that have been adapted to virtual sessions and are available to students, faculty and staff. They are also able to design custom training for specific internal and external stakeholders. They can be contacted at equity@queensu.ca.

Student Wellness Services offers a variety of information and resources for counselling appointments and mental health support.

[1] https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/

[2] https://healthsci.queensu.ca/blog/1918-ban-black-medical-students-addressing-our-past-discrimination-promote-diversity-future

[3] https://www.queensu.ca/encyclopedia/p/pierce-alfie