A message from President Kathy Kinloch from her June 5 community video:
This last week has been particularly challenging as we watched events unfold in the U.S. and here at home where we have seen an increase in racist acts in our own region and communities. These events are deeply disturbing, and heartbreaking. This is no doubt a time for self-education and self-reflection for all of us.
I’ve recently signed our B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s “Different Together” pledge to uphold our Canadian values of diversity and inclusion and to oppose racism and hate in all its forms. The premise of the pledge is that we are stronger when we are different, together. Here’s the link if you wish to join me. I remain committed to ensuring racism and injustice have no place at BCIT. It’s enshrined in our BCIT values of diversity and inclusion — and engaging with respect.
Every day, our BCIT community welcomes people from different cultures, ethnicities, abilities, and backgrounds working together every day here at BCIT – contributing to a better experience for our students. This gives me great hope and pride in our community.
In the last number of weeks, we have witnessed and heard about the many incidents of race-based violence within Canada and around the world. The civil unrest in the United States, and our own backyard, has highlighted the systemic racism that persists against the Black community. People of Asian origin have also been the target of recent violence here in the Lower Mainland. Indigenous, Black, and other People of Colour (IBPoC) are continually subject to harassment, discrimination, and violence rooted in white supremacy and racism.
BCIT takes the physical and psychological safety of our community very seriously, and has a zero-tolerance policy towards racism and injustice. We are committed to providing a learning and working environment that is inclusive and respectful to all, and as such, condemns any and all forms of discrimination and harassment.
As embedded in our BCIT values, we champion diversity of experiences, ideas, cultures, and perspectives, fostering a community permeated with equality and inclusivity. To that end, BCIT is committed to:
- Ensuring all employees receive training on diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism.
- Actively working to ensure employees come from diverse groups and represent the communities within which we live and work by creating equitable hiring practices to remove systemic barriers and unconscious bias.
- Acknowledging that BCIT is located on the unceded territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) First Nations. And recognizing that the relationship with Indigenous peoples in Canada has been troubled and must be reconciled.
- Providing platforms and training to staff and students to address issues of racism, diversity, unconscious bias, and allyship.
- Supporting Indigenous Services, the Respect, Diversity, and Inclusion Department, and other community groups and ensuring these critical services continue to respond to racist behaviour.
- Continuing to provide a complaint mechanism for anyone who is subjected to such behaviour within the BCIT learning or working environment through various channels, including the RDI department.
Here are some steps you can take to support the IBPoC Community:
Everyone has a responsibility to oppose and challenge racism. We all have unconscious biases that affect the way we view and respond to our surroundings. From the most mild bias to the most extreme, we can objectively look at the impact we have on our world and try to make it better through self-awareness and action. We cannot fight racism with an attitude of complacency.
Self education is an ongoing process and we must work to recognize our own privilege, biases, and systemic discrimination. Understanding the role we all play is the first step in preventing and addressing racism. These books are a great starting point:
- Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What we See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
- Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji & Anthony G. Greenwald
Move from silent bystander to an active ally
- Remember, silence empowers the oppressor. Learn what you can do when you witness racism or other forms of bigotry.
- Read – Subtle Act of Exclusion: How to understand, Identify, and Stop Microagressions by Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran
If you have Privilege, acknowledge it
- Read – White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo
- Take the #DifferentTogether Pledge
Other resources for education and understanding:
- Anti Racism Resources for White People
- Government of BC. Anti-Racism FAQs.
- Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC
- Act 2 End Racism
- Black Lives Matter
- Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion
- BCIT Indigenous Services
- BCIT’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy specifically prohibits harassment and discrimination on the basis of a number of characteristics, including, but not limited to race, color, ancestry, and place of origin.
Do you need help?
If you have experienced discrimination or harassment while studying or working at BCIT please contact the Respect, Diversity, and Inclusion office.
Shereen Tayles is the Associate Director of the BCIT Respect, Diversity and Inclusion Office.