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New report contains 54 recommendations aimed at addressing racism and promoting inclusive excellence at UBC

May 15, 2022

This May marks two years since George Floyd was murdered. Handcuffed and pinned to the ground by his neck under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, Floyd desperately pleaded for help until the moment he took his very last breath. Floyd’s cruel death ignited a racial reckoning felt around the world.

As Black Lives Matter protests burgeoned across North America immediately after, institutions of higher education also came under scrutiny. Universities, including UBC, were being called to account for systemic racial inequities that continue to permeate the halls of academia.

It was a time of great uncertainty. Not only was the world in the grip of a deadly pandemic, but social unrest was sweeping across nations. Anti-Asian racism, fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, was escalating. Antisemitism and Islamophobia were also on the rise. Later, the location of unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School, and unmarked graves at additional sites, reopened wounds for survivors of the residential school system. This intergenerational trauma continues to affect Indigenous peoples across Canada. All of this made for an urgent need to undertake anti-racism and to address historical and contemporary forms of anti-Indigenous racism.

Shortly after Floyd’s death, UBC issued a letter reaffirming the university’s commitment to combatting racism and calling for the acceleration of efforts to build a more inclusive campus community. As part of that commitment, the Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force was created, bringing together a group of 34 faculty members, students, and staff to examine systemic racism at UBC.

This month, the task force released a 296-page report containing 54 recommendations aimed at addressing institutional and other forms of racism against Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC) and promoting inclusive excellence at UBC. The report underscores that UBC, like many post-secondary institutions across Canada, has not been immune to the scourge of racism. We are aware of the discrimination, including micro-aggressions, that IBPOC community members routinely face in classrooms and other university spaces. Racism can be explicit and blatant, or it can be subtle and difficult to identify. It is pervasive and has significant harmful impacts on the health and well-being of those who are recipients of such oppressive behaviour. That must end now.

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