Year of Action for Racial Justice 2020-2021

The leadership team and professors of the Faculty of Education recognise the unprecedented expectations of a broad coalition of students, professors, staff, partners and the general public to contribute to action for racial justice and to address anti-Black racisms and other racisms in our Faculty, University and society.

Part 1: Context

In recent weeks and months, we have been called on to include a compulsory antiracist education course in our teacher education programs, we have received letters from the public and former students calling for change, and students and professors have organised teach-ins and other activities.

Students in the Faculty have created the Teacher Candidates of Colour collective, Methic-Edu and the Graduate Students of Colour collective to advocate and engage in dialogue.

In the broader institutional context, the University President is driving an agenda for institutional change toward supporting BIPOC colleagues and students within our wider community.

This is an unprecedented opportunity to create change.

Together against racism logo.

The Faculty of Education has been part of this growing shift in consciousness, building on the inclusion of equity and social justice as a key aspect of the Faculty’s strategic plan. Initiatives and actions in the past year include:

  • Adoption by the Faculty of Education of the UN Decade for people of African descent.
  • Creation of a program to support professor-conceived initiatives to promote equity and social justice in the Faculty. Two project proposals were funded:
    • Les minorités visibles dans la profession enseignante : 25 ans après le programme d’accès à l’Université d’Ottawa, led by D. Mujawamariya
    • Soutenir la mise en œuvre de pratiques inclusives dans le programme de formation à l’enseignement, led by M. Moldoveanu
  • Approval of an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to provide leadership, coordination and collaboration with students with respect to equity and social justice in the Faculty (in direct response calls for better representation by BIPOC students in teacher education).
  • Shift in regular professor hiring culture to more diverse and inclusive policies.
  • Creation of scholarships for Indigenous and New Canadian Students
  • Growing number of externally funded research projects with an antiracism/equity focus
  • RESKN/ Partnerships in Professional Learning with local boards and symposia with an antiracism/equity focus
  • Launch of the OADE Commitment to Anti-Black Racism Education and Black Inclusion in Ontario Higher Education

In addition, many individual members of the Faculty have initiated or contributed opportunities to create learning and change, such as reading groups, discussion groups, and seminars, in addition to work within their teaching. These initiatives demonstrate the strong commitment to equity and racial justice in the Faculty and the strong desire to go beyond these initial steps.

There is a clear desire for change from multiple stakeholders and clear, broad support within the Faculty, prefigured by the Faculty’s strategic plan.

It’s time to seize the moment.

Part 2: Plan for a year of action

The Faculty of Education leadership will initiate, support or create the conditions for the following additional steps during the 2020–2021 academic year. A key overarching goal is to complete a long-term action plan for the future.

This work is guided by a set of principles:

  • Active: A focus on action, not more studying the problem;

  • Engaged: A commitment to engage stakeholders, including students and staff, and community partners in crafting our long-term action plan;

  • Sensitive: A commitment to be aware of the additional work and emotional cost that may inadvertently be borne by BIPOC members of our community and to conduct the process responsibly and with sensitivity.

The following specific actions are planned.

To engage our community

  • We will organise a series of virtual panels focused on actions that different stakeholders would like to see in different aspects of our activities. E.g. teacher education, graduate programs, research, services.
  • We will build a program of activities into our Faculty Assemblies and on other occasions during the year;
  • We will create a moderated internal space for learning for Faculty employees (e.g. a Teams group);
  • We will identify key research and professional learning partnerships with local school boards to study and address anti-Black racisms across the school curriculum;
  • We will engage with partners within the University (e.g., TLSS, other Faculties) to propose new joint initiatives focused on addressing anti-Black racisms.

To identify what we must change

  • We will review and revise faculty and program policy documents, including professor and student guides, from a racial justice perspective to update language and expectations, highlight current policies, etc.;
  • We will conduct a scan of practices on racial justice in Faculties of Education and other institutions elsewhere in Ontario and in Canada more broadly;
  • We will review the Faculty’s out-facing communications to ensure they reflect our values.

Because we can’t wait, this year

  • We will create a francophone version of the anglophone graduate course EDU5466: Racism and antiracism in education
  • We will implement training on antiracism for professors
  • We will create a micro-program on antiracism in education;
  • We will add additional electives to our teacher education programs;
  • We will create a bilingual MOOC on anti-racist education open to the general public. 
  • The newly created Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, will play a central role in the reviewing the above steps, and especially in the preparation of the long-term action plan.

Together, we can chart our future course for racial justice in the Faculty of Education, the University of Ottawa, in our schools, communities and society.

Together against racism: A year of reflection and action

Read about a year of reflection and action