SCHOOL OF ENGLISH AND THEATRE STUDIES
& OUR COMMITMENT TO
The University of Guelph resides on the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. We recognize this gathering place where we work and learn is home to many past, present, and future First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Our acknowledgement of the land is our declaration of our collective responsibility to this place and its peoples’ histories, rights, and presence. Our school supports and adds our collective voice to the “CALLS TO ACTION” from the Truth and Reconciliation Committee on Indian Residential School to never forget, to hold governments and colonial forces to account, to seek redress and healing for injustice.
To the University of Guelph/College of Arts/School of English and Theatre Studies Communities:
The School of English and Theatre Studies stands in Solidarity with Black, Indigenous, POC, LGBTQA+, immigrant, differently abled, non-neurotypical, religious minority, and the range of intersectional identities, other marginalized communities and uniquely embodied folxs with whom we work.
We recognize global, national, and local realities confronting racism ingrained in our systems, but often overlooked, and actualized by individuals. The tragic murder of George Floyd reverberates throughout our society due to its deep connection to systemic oppression and violence faced by Black families in communities across North America, including Canada.
The involvement of police in the deaths of Regis Korchinski-Paquet and countless other Black and Indigenous people is grim evidence of this. June 2020, in New Brunswick, Indigenous woman Chantel Moore was shot and killed by police, called to perform a wellness check; later that week, Indigenous man Rodney Levi was shot and killed by a RCMP officer. Protesters in Guelph on June 8th, 2020 pointed out the ways racism and police brutality are rife in our own community. We stand in the streets with protestors supporting this historic struggle. We are committed to change these unjust systems of white supremacy and embody a more just and equitable future.
Canada’s long and sordid legacy of ignorant and perpetrating racism against Black, Indigenous, and all people of colour must be acknowledged. This includes, but is not limited to: enslavement, the colonization and genocide of Indigenous peoples, theft of Indigenous land and resources, attempts to assimilate Indigenous children into the dominant Euro-Christian Society, the residential school system, as well as exclusionary immigration policies guided by considerations of economic self-interest, racial prejudice and political bias, the Chinese Head Tax, Japanese Canadian internment camps. Canada was built upon racism, white supremacy, and colonization.
Failing to acknowledge these histories is complicit behaviour that reinforces willful ignorance of fundamental realities of Canadian society making it impossible to meaningfully address systemic issues. This state of affairs cannot continue.
We recognize recent events of 2020, including ongoing police brutality and the COVID-19 pandemic, distinctly affect Black and Indigenous faculty, staff, and students. We also understand that bearing witness to ongoing systematic oppression and violence against Black and Indigenous families and communities detrimentally affects people’s health and wellbeing; especially true for BIPOC faculty, staff, and students who have experienced and continue to experience, first-hand, hateful, or ignorant acts of racism, anti-blackness, and exclusion. We unequivocally support Black and Indigenous colleagues and students against these continued injustices.
We commit ourselves and our school to the practices of anti-racism, to confronting racist ideologies both within ourselves and our community. We refuse to perpetuate expressions of hate and xenophobia. There are concrete ways faculty can engage anti-discriminatory practices. One important way is by avoiding the use of “Respondus” and other colonial-racist surveillance technologies. It is well documented that surveillance and policing approaches to teaching and learning detrimentally and disproportionately impacts BIPOC students.
We commit to centering equity and inclusion in our research, teaching, and community engagement. These efforts serve our mission as educators and work toward social justice. We strive to respect and promote diversity, inclusion, equity, and decoloniality by creating an environment that embodies these values in our recruitment, scholarship, research, education, and service. Faculty can foster teaching and learning environments that encourage collaboration, respect, and equity – through the design of course materials, assessments, and policies.
As scholars, students, practitioners, and administrators in the School of English and Theatre Studies we encourage our communities to listen, read, and watch BIPOC artistic and activist works. All of us have a responsibility to engage with such work thoughtfully and without guilt and shame, as these emotions place the responsibility back on BIPOC people to make white folx feel better.
We commit our attention and dedication to catalyzing a socially-just learning community and environment rooted in anti-racist policies and practices. We recognize we have a lot of work to do to actualize the values of equity and inclusion in our lives. We look forward to joining with each of you to build the just and caring community we aspire to.
As a living document, this statement invites community input and specific action items to help in building a stronger, wiser, inclusive community where all belong.