Western has joined other Canadian universities and colleges in signing the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education.
“Western embraces the challenge of building a more inclusive world,” said president Alan Shepard. “As postsecondary institutions continue to engage in meaningful work to increase diversity and counter racism, we can help make Canada a stronger, more just society.”
Launched Nov. 18, the Scarborough Charter is the brainchild of collaborative work among Canadian universities, colleges and other partners that began in October 2020, initiating a national dialogue on racial equity and the role of higher education in instituting change. The Scarborough Charter now has 47 signatories, including Western and its affiliated university colleges (Brescia, Huron and King’s).
“Postsecondary institutions are instrumental in shaping the future of society,” said Opiyo Oloya, Western’s associate vice-president of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). “By taking concrete action against anti-Black racism and committing to Black inclusion in all that we do as an institution and as a community, we can succeed in our journey toward change.”
Oloya, an award-winning school board administrator who came to Canada as a political refugee from Uganda, joined Western as the university’s first associate vice-president of EDI on Aug. 30. His work is guided by Western’s first-ever EDI advisory council.
Signatories to the Scarborough Charter commit to redressing anti-Black racism and fostering Black inclusion. The charter prescribes four principles that should guide universities and colleges in policy making and action: Black flourishing; inclusive excellence; mutuality; and accountability.
The charter will enable ongoing collaboration, mutual learning and sharing of resources among Canadian universities, colleges and other partner agencies to promote and act on these principles.
“I am looking forward to what we, as a larger community of higher learning in Canada, can accomplish through a unified approach to racial equity and inclusion. This long road ahead will not be without challenges, but we are ready to take them on, and I am excited to work with our peer institutions to carve the path forward,” Oloya said.
Signing on to the Scarborough Charter is the latest in a series of commitments Western has made to embed EDI principles into the institutional structure of the university.
In June, Western announced a $6-million investment to support new EDI initiatives including the recruitment of Black and Indigenous faculty members. Last month, Western’s first-ever campus-wide equity census was launched, the results of which will help provide a clearer picture of the demographics of the university and enhance diversity and equity in the campus community.