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MEMO: Algoma University’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Anti-Asian Racism Institutional Statement

Algoma University’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee unequivocally denounces racism in all its forms and stands in solidarity with the global movements to stop anti-Asian racism, along with all allies seeking to uplift Asian voices, peoples, and rights. The mass killing of eight people in Atlanta (USA) that included six Asian women this week is another horrific  and painful example  of the surge in anti-Asian racism that must stop. Unfortunately, anti-Asian discrimination and violence is a reality. Members of the diverse Asian communities in Canada continue to experience racism – a practice cemented in mis-representations of Asian peoples as ‘alien enemies’ during the first and second world wars.

Anti-immigrant sentiments work in tandem with, and alongside colonization, imperialism and white supremacy that construct Asian bodies as disposable – necessary to build the Canadian economy but never accepted as contributing members of society. Yet, we must humanize, acknowledge and celebrate the contributions made by the Asian community. They are our students, colleagues, friends, neighbours and accomplished professionals, scientists, academics, researchers and healthcare professionals who are contributing members of society. This systemic exclusion and racism require us to work together, and in this moment we must support the lead and direction of all global communities impacted. 

According to a September 2020 report prepared by the Chinese Canadian National Council’s (CCNC) Toronto Chapter, in partnership with the Vancouver-based grassroots group Project 1907, Canadians have reported more anti-Asian racist incidents per capita than the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. This violence has been  exacerbated by the present pandemic and economic and ecological crises – are fundamentally connected. These are life-affirming struggles against colonial and capitalist systems of hierarchy and domination. In Vancouver, anti-Asian hate crimes rose by 717 per cent in the span of one year. Toronto is the second city where these crimes have increased the most in Canada.

Algoma University condemns this systemic violence in all its forms. We honour the lives and memories of the victims of the Atlanta shooting and elsewhere by recommitting to our EDI mandate:

“Algoma University commits to embedding equity, diversity, and inclusion to foster a welcoming environment on our campuses. EDI values must be transversal in the entire organization to fullfil Algoma University’s commitment to undoing systemic and institutional discrimination and to be publicly transparent and accountable. We also acknowledge that racism and discrimination exists and affects underrepresented groups (URG) – women, Indigenous, Black and other racialized persons, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQQIP2SA+ persons) in disproportionate, distinct and complex ways. Algoma University therefore seeks to take its Special Mission and EDI values as its foundation and in keeping with the history and significance of its geographical site”. 

“Racial discrimination will not be eliminated by one event or activity but through persistent efforts that are both intentional and measurable.  By working together we can make a difference and set an example for others to follow” (Asima Vezina, Algoma University President and Vice-Chancellor, 2021).

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Mary Wabano-McKay, Nyaagaaniid-VP  Student Success, Anishinaabe
Initiatives & Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

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