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Dear members of the Victoria University community,

The murder of George Floyd and so many others, and the demonstrations against longstanding anti-Black racism in the United States and Canada, have concentrated the attention of Victoria University on how our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion serves, and sometimes fails to serve, members of the Black community. A few days ago, we expressed our support of University of Toronto President Meric Gertler’s statement in solidarity with U of T’s Black community members. We think it is important to also send a message directly to the Victoria community to affirm solidarity against the injustices that members of the Black community continue to face every day. We have set ourselves the task of learning how we can live up to this affirmation.

A necessary first step is to acknowledge the historical and present-day reality of racism in the university. The discrimination and injustices faced by Black people occur not only in another country, time or institution: they manifest themselves pervasively in Canada, including at universities, including here at Victoria.

Beyond this, there is a need for concrete, Victoria-specific actions to support Black students, faculty and staff, and to confront the systemic racism embedded in higher education and beyond.

With this in mind, starting now, our planning processes will name and take account of anti-Black racism and will set tangible outcomes. This will involve a meaningful process of listening and learning over the coming months. We invite members of the Victoria community to send suggestions about actions to take and modes of consultation to

We will also immediately increase mental health resources for Black, Indigenous, and racialized students. At the same time, we will undertake an assessment of supports currently available for racialized faculty and staff. There are valuable initiatives and resources available for Victoria faculty, staff and students at the University of Toronto Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office.

Members of the Victoria community—students, staff, faculty, and community members—will also be invited to participate, virtually or in person, in the conference on Race and Racism on Campus planned for the Fall term of this coming academic year.

Systemic racism exists in our society, including at our universities, and it is unacceptable. These steps are just a part of the work we need to do.

William Robins
President, Victoria University