June 19, 2020Print | PDF
Over the past weeks, people have come together on the streets and virtually to protest anti-Black racism, systemic racism, police violence and injustice. Organizations have been compelled to reflect on their own values of equity, diversity and inclusion and anti-racism and the reality of the lived experiences of many within our communities. Wilfrid Laurier University is no different.
Laurier is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) as part of its core values, and understands that the effective creation and dissemination of new knowledge must take place in an academic community that recognizes the dignity and value of each and every one of its students, staff and faculty members.
In a more concerted effort to realize and hold the university accountable to its EDI goals, Laurier has developed an action plan for equity, diversity and inclusion and Indigeneity.
The relationship between EDI and Indigeneity at Laurier is in the spirit of the Two Row Wampum. They walk side by side, down the same path, in pursuit of partnership and mutuality in pursuit of an inclusive, welcoming and just community.
"We have heard from our community of students, faculty and staff that they want more than words. Our community wants and deserves action,” says Deborah MacLatchy, president and vice-chancellor. “While we know there is much more to do, we are sharing the priority actions we are taking to address systemic racism of Black, Indigenous and racialized people at our university. More actions will be identified through consultations and strategic planning processes."
Laurier’s actions and their timelines are outlined on the equity, diversity and inclusion website, where the status of each item will be updated as progress continues.
The plan outlines institution-wide strategies and initiatives such as resources and support spaces; hiring and training processes; establishing a clear policy definition of racism and a reporting system of accountability; reviewing Special Constable Service interactions with Black, Indigenous, and racialized members of the Laurier community and how reports of racism are responded to and addressed; and increasing diversity in senior leadership. Student-focused initiatives include providing culturally competent counselling and supports and addressing racism directly in the Non-Academic Student Code of Conduct; and faculty- and staff-focused initiatives include anti-racism training, equity procedures in hiring processes and incorporating EDI competencies in employee success factors.
The items in the action plan are based on research and consultations recently undertaken within the Laurier community. The university is indebted to the work of the authors of the 2019 Being Raced report, Paige Grant, Azka Choudhary, Joey Lee, Kate Harvey, Lauren Burrows, Laura Mae Lindo and Vanessa Oliver and recognizes the contributions of members of the EDI Community of Practice: Ciann Wilson, Eden Hennessey, Lauren Burrows and Humera Javed. Additional priorities have been developed from the Laurier Strategy (2019-2024) consultations, the Employee Engagement Survey (2019.
In addition to the action plan for equity, diversity and inclusion, two strategic plans are central to Laurier realizing its EDI priorities: Laurier’s Indigenization strategic planning process, which is underway, and an institutional strategy for EDI, which will be launched in fall 2020. A collaborative approach that includes community consultation will be key in developing both plans.
Two key leadership roles will guide the development of these strategic plans: the associate vice-president: equity, diversity and inclusion, and the associate vice-president: Indigenous initiatives.
Laurier’s senior advisor: equity, diversity and inclusion role has been elevated to associate vice-president: equity, diversity and inclusion. As AVP: EDI, Barrington Walker will enhance Laurier’s efforts in fostering an equitable, diverse and inclusive community. He will continue to lead the creation of a university-wide EDI strategy and provide expertise, guidance, mentorship and support to faculty and staff and students working toward EDI-related goals. Walker will be a member of the president and vice-chancellor’s Cabinet, consisting of Laurier’s senior executive team, while reporting to the provost and vice-president: academic, ensuring a continued focus on EDI in the university’s strategic initiatives. Two new staff positions will be added to the Office of the AVP: EDI to provide enhanced resources in the areas of support, education, training, and special projects.
Walker, who is also a professor in Laurier’s history department, joined Laurier in Jan. 2020 from Queen’s University, where he was a member of the Department of History from 2002-2020 and served as the diversity advisor to the vice-principal: academic from 2007 to 2009. Walker is a scholar of Modern Canadian history, Black Canadian history, race, immigration and the law.
Laurier will begin a search over the summer months for an associate vice-president: Indigenous initiatives, also elevated from its former senior advisor role. The role, which reports to the provost and vice-president: academic, will provide strategic leadership as a member of the president and vice-chancellor’s Cabinet and lead the development of Laurier’s institutional Indigenization Strategy. The AVP: Indigenous initiatives will also provide support for faculty teaching and research, help departments and faculties include Indigenization in their strategic plans, and work closely with the Indigenous Education Council. The AVP will also be involved in ceremonial roles, donor and community relations, and honouring memoranda of understanding and commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Learn more about Laurier’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.