Nov. 18, 2021
For Immediate Release
Waterloo – Wilfrid Laurier University joined over 40 universities and colleges across the country in signing the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education on Nov. 18.
The Scarborough Charter is an initiative stemming from the National Dialogues and Action and its national forums focused on equity and inclusion in Canadian post-secondary institutions. The results of the forums on anti-Black racism and Black inclusion aided in the development of the charter, which commits participating institutions to redressing anti-Black racism and fostering Black inclusion and guides them on actions related to four principles: Black flourishing, inclusive excellence, mutuality and accountability.
“The Scarborough Charter’s four themes align with Laurier’s mission, vision and values. It provides Laurier and universities and colleges across the country with tools, based on agreed-upon principles, specific to addressing anti-Black racism and fostering inclusion,” said Deborah MacLatchy, Laurier’s president and vice-chancellor. “Signing the charter is another step for Laurier in building a thriving community that embraces diversity and inclusion.”
Actions that signing universities have been encouraged to take include compiling baseline data to gauge levels of (under)representation and to provide demographics on Black faculty, staff and students, fostering inclusive teaching and research, community engagement, and representative and inclusive governance practices.
The inter-institutional steering committee on inclusive higher education will hold signatories accountable to the commitments toward best efforts as outlined in the charter.
Laurier’s Associate Vice-President of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Barrington Walker is a member of the inter-institutional advisory committee for the national dialogues and action for inclusive higher education and communities and a member of the drafting sub-committee.
“To be a contributor to the Scarborough Charter means a lot to me both professionally and personally,” said Walker. “My hope is that the principles outlined in the charter serve as a guiding light for those of us in higher education for many years to come.”
“I am extremely pleased Laurier is signing on to this vitally important document, which further strengthens Laurier’s commitment to offering an inclusive environment for all,” said Tony Vannelli, provost and vice-president: academic. “Some of Laurier’s current priorities, such as involvement in the federal Dimensions Pilot Program and Inclusive Excellence faculty hires, support the actions encouraged in the charter.”
The goals of the charter are closely aligned to the five-year Laurier Strategy, which references an inclusive community among its top priorities. It is also another step Laurier is taking to address systemic discrimination and racism, along with its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Indigeneity Action Plan and a new EDI Strategic Plan that held its initial stakeholder consultations in 2021.
Laurier signed the charter alongside University of Waterloo, University of Guelph and McMaster University, as well as institutions spanning the country, including the University of Prince Edward Island, Dalhousie University, McGill University, University of Alberta and the University of British Columbia.
The charter is the result of over a year of consultation with key stakeholders from across Canada, including students, faculty, staff, senior leadership of partner institutions, sector-wide bodies and Black political and civic leaders and organizations outside academe.
The virtual event included greetings and remarks from Philip Landon, chief operating officer, Universities Canada; the official signing of the charter via video montage in which MacLatchy and other participating post-secondary institution presidents were featured; and a panelist discussion from senior leaders across higher education.
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