In response to the damaging discriminatory experiences reported by many Black members of the uOttawa community, President Jacques Frémont today announced five new initiatives designed to combat systemic racial discrimination in all three core areas of the University’s institution mission: student experience, pedagogy and research.
These initiatives prioritize five distinct areas of activity on campus, with the goal of achieving transformative results in each:
1. Providing better support for members of our racialized communities, including establishing a mentorship program and dedicated mental health offerings as well as additional scholarships for racialized students.
2. Accelerate the hiring of professors of Black, Indigenous and racialized professors in the coming years.
3. Program reviews to enrich curricula with more culturally diverse and inclusive practices (methodologies) and knowledge.
4. Development and widespread implementation of anti-racism and anti-oppression training for the community.
5. Implementation of a research support program for racialized researchers, so that a more equitable, diverse and inclusive research community is established.
Frémont committed that the initiatives, announced at the University’s Senate meeting, will be implemented by the Fall 2021.
“Over the past year it has become clear that racism, especially anti-Black racism, has caused tremendous emotional pain at uOttawa,” Frémont said. “The University acknowledges that many racialized members of our community have experienced – either directly or indirectly – emotional trauma due to acts of racial discrimination and cultural insensitivity on campus, both historically and in the recent past.”
“The University deeply regrets that members of our community have been subject to those traumatic experiences and reaffirms its commitment to working to eliminate anti-Black racism in any and all forms. It is essential that everyone on our campus feels safe and that all students, faculty and staff treat each other with respect at all times. To the extent that this has not always been the case, the University is determined to enact change through meaningful community engagement, critical self-reflection and transformative actions,” he told the Senate members.
These new initiatives draw on numerous suggestions received over the past year from racialized members of the University’s community during public meetings and other consultations.
The President committed to ensuring that the initiatives will be developed in consultation with members of the University community, including BIPOC stakeholders and will be undertaken in a transparent and accountable manner. Committees and other working groups will establish specific timelines and actions for each of these initiatives and funding will be made available.
In making the announcement President Frémont said: “We do not imagine that these new initiatives are end points on the journey to true equality at uOttawa, but rather significant and necessary steps forward. We will continue to listen and learn together as we work to eliminate all racial discrimination from our campus and community.”
The President added: “I wish also to acknowledge the University’s profound commitment to promoting Indigenous knowledge and culture, and to confronting the legacy of Canada’s colonial history through our .”
As Special Advisor, Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence, Professor Boulou Ebanda De B’béri will co-ordinate the implementation and delivery of the reforms announced today. The Provost and Vice-President Academic Affairs, the Deans and staff will support him to ensure successful development and implementation across uOttawa.
In conclusion the President said:
“Let me reaffirm that racism and discrimination have no place in our university. Though we number 50,000, we are one community; a welcoming community that unequivocally opposes and denounces racism, harassment, racial slurs and discrimination.”