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Sheridan Speaks Out Against Anti-Black Racism

June 04, 2020

Sheridan expresses deep sadness for the loss of lives stemming from anti-Black racism in recent days. We stand in solidarity with the Black community, particularly during this time of acute pain and sorrow. This message of solidarity was shared via email with all students and employees on June 1 together with links to access counselling services for those experiencing an overwhelming emotional response. The message also shared recommended readings to help all members of our community to educate themselves about racism and racial inequality.

Sheridan condemns racism in all of its forms. Our Statement of Commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion declares that, “Sheridan is committed to upholding the values of equity, diversity and inclusion in our teaching, learning and working environments, to ensure they are free of discrimination and harassment, and in compliance with the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code.”

To provide an open space to engage in purposeful dialogue about anti-Black racism, Sheridan’s Office of Inclusive Communities hosted “Courageous Conversations: Black People Need to Catch their Breath” on June 2, which was attended by 288 students, employees and alumni.

Panel members – including the President of the Sheridan Black Students’ Association and current faculty and staff -- discussed their lived experience with anti-Black racism. The forum gave rise to an open and honest conversation about the presence and impact of discrimination, the emotional tax borne by people of colour during racialized experiences, and the uncomfortable but necessary work that needs to be done to create safe spaces for everyone. Chief of Police Stephen Tanner of the Halton Regional Police Service called upon frontline officers to speak out about discriminatory practices. He also encouraged people to protest in a safe manner. Sheridan’s Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Sean McNabney modeled how to acknowledge white privilege and the meaningful actions people can take who strive to be allies.

The event ended with a strong statement from Sheridan President and Vice Chancellor Dr. Janet Morrison who declared that “standing together is not enough”. She noted that the recent events are products of decades of government policies and a reflection of private sector decisions, as well as systemic and structural failures – and that people of privilege have an obligation to disrupt and deconstruct this reality.

Dr. Morrison further committed that Sheridan would undertake important efforts to address anti-Black Racism in its processes, policies, and in all areas that affect students and staff, noting that an important first step was Sheridan’s recent Self-Identification Census. The effort to capture baseline data on the demographic composition of Sheridan’s employees will allow for the development of evidence-based equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policy and action plans based on identified gaps, barriers and trends. She also committed to critical reflections on Sheridan’s admissions and hiring practices.