U of G Signs New National Charter to Fight Anti-Black Racism, Promote Inclusion

University of Guelph entrance wallThe University of Guelph is part of a historic national movement to combat anti-Black racism and promote Black inclusion on university and college campuses.

U of G is among 40 post-secondary institutions that today signed the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education.

The Charter is a national action plan for fighting structural racism and inspiring positive change in Canada’s post-secondary sector and outlines principles, accountability, and actions. It also provides a framework to guide planning and strategies.

The charter stems from the 2020 National Dialogues and Action forum on addressing equity and inclusion in Canadian post-secondary education. That event brought together more than 3,000 people from 60 Canadian higher education institutions to discuss anti-Black racism and Black inclusion.

An inter-institutional advisory committee created to draft the charter spent a year collecting input from people in the post-secondary sector and other partners across Canada, including Black political and civic leaders.

The charter was formally launched today during a virtual event that included a panel discussion and  question-and-answer segment.

“The Scarborough Charter will give our University concrete tools to include, nurture and celebrate the diverse identities and lived experiences of Black community members,” said U of G president Dr. Charlotte Yates.

“The charter, along with our Anti-Racism Action Plan, is a pledge of our shared commitment to action. It will help inform our ongoing work on diversity and inclusion and inspire new programs, with the aim of ensuring all members of our U of G community are supported and can thrive in an environment free of racism and discrimination.”

The charter outlines four principles for addressing racism and fostering inclusion — Black flourishing, inclusive excellence, mutuality and accountability – to help guide decisions, policies and strategies.

In signing the document, U of G and other partners pledge to implementing the charter’s commitments to action and to pursue concrete outcomes. Among the charter’s numerous recommendations for progress and change are the following highlights:

  • Ensure leadership on equity across all institutional levels and diversify leadership
  • Recruit, support career progression and retain Black faculty, staff and students across university and college units
  • Create academic programs and curricular development that support and acknowledge Black students
  • Encourage development of new Black and Black Canadian studies programs
  • Address Black underrepresentation and build equitable practices into teaching and research
  • Commission task forces to promote future inclusive higher education and community flourishing
  • Provide demographic knowledge of Black faculty, staff and students within institutions and identify the extent of underrepresentation through data compilation and analysis
  • Establish comprehensive strategies where gaps exist
  • Build robust community partnerships with Black-led organizations
  • Provide anti-Black racism education for all institutional members while developing performance expectations for faculty and staff that build capacity on anti-racism and Black inclusion

Prof. Lawrence Hill

“This is a proud and important day for the University of Guelph,” said Prof. Lawrence Hill, co-chair of U of G’s President’s Advisory Committee on Anti-Racism.

“The charter is about taking action and responsibility,” said Hill, a professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies and a renowned author and advocate of racial equality.

“Racial injustice continues, affecting members of our Black campus community. Ensuring fulsome, transformative inclusion and change across this University will require action and co-operation from the entire U of G and greater Guelph region.”

Indira Naidoo-Harris

Indira Naidoo-Harris, AVP, diversity and human rights, added: ”As a University, we have made great progress, but there is much work to be done. Joining the Scarborough Charter is an important step in our efforts to address racism and discrimination at U of G and beyond. This is about advancing real change in higher education in Canada and creating environments where everyone can succeed.”

Both Hill and Naidoo-Harris said Scarborough Charter aligns with U of G’s Anti-Racism plan, released by Yates in fall 2020 . The University has already implemented many components of the plan, including:

  • Mandatory anti-oppression and anti-racism training for all incoming U of G students and a for-credit undergraduate course on anti-discrimination and anti-oppression
  • Anti-racism and anti-bias training for U of G administrators, faculty and staff
  • Development of a Black Canadian studies minor to begin in fall 2022
  • Self-identification surveys to learn more about U of G’s diversity (to be distributed this month)
  • Creation of a working group to develop an ongoing strategy/plan for hiring and supporting Black and Indigenous faculty and for curricular and pedagogical innovation supporting inclusion and anti-racism
  • Nearly two dozen new awards and scholarships to support BIPOC students
  • Creation of a $200,000 fund to support members of the U of G community promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts. To date, 28 projects have been supported, including Black History Month, BIPOC mentorship programs and EDI workshops
  • Addition of a student wellness counsellor dedicated to BIPOC students and issues

U of G President Dr. Charlotte Yates signing the Scarborough charter