VIU Hosting Universities for an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Symposium
The event will allow universities to share experiences, best practices and promote long-term collaboration to enhance equity, diversity and inclusion strategies.
Vancouver Island University (VIU) is hosting 13 post-secondary institutions from across Canada for a two-day symposium to exchange ideas and best practices for equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) action planning.
VIU’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Symposium on March 24 and 25 will be a venue for post-secondary institutions to collaborate and share research-based best practices, learn how to build EDI capacity, gain understanding of the legal and human rights aspects of EDI, and more.
Keynote speaker Dr. Denise O’Neil Green will highlight how the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion have historically been at the margins of Canada’s post-secondary education sector. Even though EDI has moved to a more central place in the foundation of university and college life, it hasn’t happened without challenges such as resistance and cultural barriers. Green was appointed as Ryerson University’s first Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion in 2017. She convened the first University and Research Funding Agencies’ Equity Officers Roundtable and brought the first White Privilege Conference Global to Toronto.
Dr. Amanda Wager, VIU’s Canada Research Chair in Community-Engaged Research, is Project Director for the $23,594 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Institutional Connection Grant, which is funding the symposium. She says the current global reality, events over the past couple of years, and historical oppressions have demonstrated that equity, diversity and inclusion is a necessary topic for all universities to talk about and take action on.
She says it isn’t only thinking about the curriculum and how it’s interwoven into the curriculum, but also the hiring process.
“How diverse is the hiring process? Does the diversity among our students mirror that of the administration, faculty and staff? What processes are happening within these universities for inclusion and equity for all the people represented in the community?” says Wager. “Across Canada universities are creating their equity, diversity and inclusion action plans and making them public. They’re being transparent about what they are doing or planning to do to make sure their campuses and the people on those campuses have a feeling of belonging and safety.”
Dr. Tehmina Khwaja, VIU’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Post-Doctoral Fellow, says the symposium is envisioned as the start of an EDI community of practice that will promote long-term collaboration among the participating universities.
“To continue the relationships and conversations which began at the symposium, we are creating an online space using Microsoft Teams where institutions will share resources such as training materials and scholarly literature. Participating universities developing their action plans will be able to upload their drafts to this collaboration site to get feedback from the community of practice,” says Khwaja.
In 2019, VIU was awarded an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Capacity Building Grant, a joint initiative of the the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council; the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, collectively known as the Tri-Agencies. VIU was also one of 15 institutions selected nationally to participate in the Dimensions Awards Pilot, which aims to foster transformational change within the research community at Canadian post-secondary institutions by identifying and eliminating obstacles and inequities in access, admissions, recruitment, pay, working and learning conditions, and more.
Rachel Stern, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University
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