March 22, 2021
A UCalgary reflection on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Yesterday, March 21, was the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination — an opportunity for us all to reflect upon the work we must do as a society to unlearn racism and promote racial justice.
Over the past year, as a university community and as a society more broadly, we have had overdue, difficult, absolutely necessary conversations about racial discrimination and what we must all do to combat it. Our student, faculty, and staff associations as well as units at all levels of our community are working on policies and mechanisms to combat racism. As we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, let us commit to continuing this work.
We have seen so many shocking events — events such as the killing of George Floyd, the RCMP response to the shooting of Colten Boushie, and the rise of anti-Asian racism and the mass murder in Atlanta that took the lives of Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Paul Andre Michels, Soon Chung Park, Xiaojie Tan, Delaina Ashley Yaun and Yong Ae Yue.
We have also seen a growing awareness of more insidious forms of racism: systemic racism and institutional failures, large and small, that have unjustly limited access and opportunities.
Both collectively and as individuals, I hope we will redouble our efforts to combat racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia in our work spaces, teaching and learning, research and scholarship, and community engagement. Statements are only the beginning. We must work to create effective policies and measures to respond to racial harms and to hold perpetrators of racism to account. That’s why I have asked the Vice-Provost (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) and the Vice-Provost (Indigenous Engagement) to develop a much-needed institutional action plan to combat racism and racial discrimination.
Together, we can build a more accessible and inclusive university and community in which all members can realize their full potential.
Dr. Ed McCauley
President and Vice-Chancellor