Monthly Archives: October 2020

Arts Faculty Council Issues Statement on Antiracism

The Faculty of Arts condemns long-standing anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in Canada and around the world, including the most recent instances of police brutality against members of these communities. Racism, systematic oppression, chronic abuse, and coercive violence are everyday, endemic realities for too many BIPOC Canadians across the country. These realities are rooted in colonial and capitalist systems of power and knowledge that have created — and that sustain — a dominant culture of white privilege and impunity. That dominant culture disguises and excuses oppression, and it normalizes suffering.

We grieve for missing and murdered Indigenous women, for young Black men dying on our streets, for the many cultural groups that inherit the burdens of colonialism, racism, and intergenerational trauma. We live in a society that venerates pluralism and diversity, yet white privilege remains entrenched in a multitude of ways. An Indigenous grandfather and his granddaughter are handcuffed by police while trying to open a bank account. A white supremacist kills a volunteer guard at a mosque. An Atikamekw woman is insulted and sworn at by hospital staff as she lies dying. We allow racialized people to face greater challenges in employment, health, and education. We permit racialization, gender, sexual orientation, and differing ability to be con7nuing risk factors for violence, brutality — and in many cases, early death.

As educators, we refuse to be bystanders to these injustices. We play a unique role in the struggle for a just society. It is our duty to identify and expose the roots of injustice and to challenge the socio-cultural, political, and economic structures that sustain them. We acknowledge our complicity in the systems of power. We recognize the ways in which the traditions of academia reflect and sustain colonial attitudes that perpetuate harm. Indigenous students grapple with practices, norms, and policies that undermine and denigrate their cultural values. Racialized students face an array of incrementally corrosive barriers. In their long and often fruitless struggle for equity, fairness, and justice, impoverished and vulnerable students often just give up.

Universities are institutions that hold power and that are built upon colonial structures which often impede the work of BIPOC educators and their allies. As university educators, we must enlist the aid of powerful, decolonial, antiracist pedagogies and practices. We must remedy historical and persistent wrongs and create the conditions in which transformation is possible.

We must work within KPU and also reach beyond our own institution in our quest for change. We call upon Canadian society to address police violence as a brutal and public form of state violence and to devote greater resources toward community well-being. We call upon all levels of government to fund programs to improve the mental health and well-being of marginalized and racialized groups as they struggle with the daily consequences of systemic

racism. We call upon the BC government to integrate UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) into all government departments, regulations, and programs. We call upon the Federal government and Canadian society to act fully on the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations and those of the MMIW (Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women) Inquiry.

The Arts community at KPU welcomes and supports the work of the Task Force on Antiracism (TFA) and other such initiatives within the Faculty of Arts and the university as a whole. Furthermore, the Arts community at KPU commits to examining, and proactively making changes to, hiring practices, curriculum, teaching methods, research, leadership, and administration: in short, the full range of systems and structures that perpetuate toxicity and harm. We must be courageous in our compassion and empathic in our support for one another in instituting these changes.

The Faculty of Arts commits to creating an atmosphere in which talking about and confronting racism is a norm and not a challenge. We commit to building an environment of trust and emotional safety in which we can grapple with our legacies and our capacities. We will devote resources to enhancing our relationships with one another and with community elders and mentors who can guide us. We will help our colleagues shift their pedagogical approaches, evolve our governance beyond colonial structures, and support our students in making their way forward and beyond racism. These are commitments we make today, and tomorrow, and for as long as it takes to heal the long shadow of systemic racism.