UBC anti-racism task force releases report aimed at addressing systemic discrimination

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The task force was formed as a result of the global uprisings in 2020 led by the Black Lives Matter movement spurred by the killing of George Floyd, according to the report. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
The task force was formed as a result of the global uprisings in 2020 led by the Black Lives Matter movement spurred by the killing of George Floyd, according to the report. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

The University of British Columbia's Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence (ARIE) Task Force has released a report which includes 54 recommendations to address systemic racism against Indigenous, Black and people of colour (IBPOC) within the UBC community.

In a written statement, the university says the intention is to promote inclusivity across UBC's Vancouver campus and the UBC Okanagan campus in Kelowna.

"As a university with campuses on Musqueam and Syilx territory and as an institution of Canadian society, UBC is committed to dismantling mechanisms of oppression that still exist in our systems and to make the university more diverse and inclusive," said president and vice-chancellor Santa J. Ono.

"We are prepared to do the hard work to move beyond words and take meaningful action against systemic racism."

A 'deep-seated problem'

The university's president first announced the creation of the ARIE Task Force in December 2020 and the committee began its work in March 2021.

The report said the task force was formed as a result of the global uprisings in 2020 led by the Black Lives Matter movement spurred by the killing of George Floyd. It said many universities and colleges were called to take accountability for racial inequities on their campuses.

The task force is made up of 34 faculty, students, and staff from both UBC campuses. Members established six independent committees: the Indigenous committee, Blackness committee, people of colour committee, staff committee, students committee and faculty committee.

UBC said in the statement the recommendations address a 'deep-seated problem' of racism that affects racialized students, staff and faculty.

"This was very hard work — sometimes wrenching and other times exhilarating heart work — and the resulting report can be read as a cohesive whole or indeed as six individual and constitutive reports on how to address racism against Indigenous, Black and People of Colour students, staff and faculty at UBC," said ARIE Task Force co-chair Handel K. Wright.

The task force said there are some themes that are part of all of the reports, such as the need for anti-racist education for all people at UBC, the need to recruit and retain BIPOC faculty members and staff, and the development of a system to handle complaints involving racist incidents.

Dr. Shirley Chau, ARIE Task Force co-chair at UBC Okanagan, said the report builds off "the lived experiences and institutional knowledge" of the group's members.

"The Task Force report can serve as a tool to take action in changing policies, practices, and institutional culture to stop the systemic and naturalized practices of exclusion and discrimination," she said.

The statement said the task force report joins the Indigenous Strategic Plan, the Inclusion Action Plan and other projects as primary aspects of UBC's continuing efforts to address all forms of discrimination.

The report's recommendations are currently under review by the university's stakeholder groups, but the university said some have already been implemented.

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