University of British Columbia hosts first-ever forum addressing Scarborough Charter on anti-Black racism

·2 min read
The University of British Columbia is hosting the first forum of the Scarborough National Charter — a pledge signed by universities across Canada to address anti-Black racism in post-secondary institutions — in Vancouver on May 13 and 14, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
The University of British Columbia is hosting the first forum of the Scarborough National Charter — a pledge signed by universities across Canada to address anti-Black racism in post-secondary institutions — in Vancouver on May 13 and 14, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Panellists at the first-ever forum on the Scarborough National Charter are hoping to address how to make campuses more inclusive for Black students and staff.

The event, Community Making and Black Flourishing Through the Scarborough Charter, is being hosted by the University of British Columbia on May 13 and 14 at the Robson Square campus.

Handel Wright, senior advisor to UBC's president on anti-racism and inclusive excellence, told CBC's On The Coast he hopes the group is able to come up with ways to encourage more Black people to attend and work at Canadian universities and colleges.

He said he also hopes people attending the event will be able to find ways to hold institutions accountable for their progress on Black representation on their campuses.

"It's about Black presence ... not just physically people being here but in Black knowledge, Black ways of knowing, Black approaches to knowledge," Wright said in a phone interview.

"All of those things are part of what we're hoping to promote throughout all of Canada."

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

The event comes after more than 50 universities and colleges across the country signed the Scarborough Charter, which pledges to fight anti-Black racism in post-secondary institutions.

It was launched in November 2021, drafted by an advisory committee that emerged from an event hosted by the University of Toronto in 2020, as anti-Black racism was in the international spotlight following the murder of George Floyd.

The event brings together four panels of administrators, faculty, advisors, students, and community activists from across the province and country, to address topics such as why a charter for Black representation is needed and how to provide a supportive environment for Black students.

A public symposium, co-hosted by Simon Fraser University, will also take place on May 14.

University of Toronto
University of Toronto

Wisdom Tettey, head of the Scarborough Charter steering committee, said in a written statement that the forum provides the first opportunity for people to meet in person to come up with action plans.

Wright also said Black people and their cultures are "acutely underrepresented" in B.C., and the forum is a chance to build better connections between universities and colleges and the province's Black community.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

CBC
CBC
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