As a York University student, you have the right to a safe, equitable and inclusive learning environment where you can pursue your academic goals. York University supports this right by providing students, staff and faculty with a number of resources and services, such as The Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion (REI). (Check out our post, “15 Resources for Any York U Student” for more!).
REI promotes and builds a respectful, equitable, diverse and inclusive university community by providing education and training resources open to faculty, staff and students; funding for inclusive initiatives on campus; and case resolution and consultation services. REI also engages the York community in important conversations about human rights, equity and inclusion issues: On January 25, 2018, REI hosted the ninth annual Inclusion Day to discuss decolonization through the lens of university curriculum and community action. (Decolonization refers to divesting colonial influences from Indigenous cultures and reclaiming historical traditions endangered by assimilation). The #YUBlog attended the event to see what it was all about—take a look at our photo diary for more!
Inclusion Day 2018
This year, REI celebrated York University’s ninth annual Inclusion Day with a series of presentations from human rights, equity and inclusion leaders. The event was live-streamed to York’s Glendon campus, and a record 330 people joined in, making it the biggest Inclusion Day celebration yet! If you were unable to attend Inclusion Day 2018, you can view the live stream footage on YouTube.
The event included a keynote presentation from Kathleen E. Mahoney FRSC, QC, Professor of Law at the University of Calgary followed by a panel discussion with Ixchel Bennett, MEd, BEd, BA Faculty of Education at York University, Kate Cornell, Executive Director of the Canadian Dance Assembly and Professor Spiros Pagiatakis, Associate Dean of the Lassonde School of Engineering. The event, which was free for all attendees, both members of the York community and external participants, presented an excellent opportunity to consider the role academia plays in decolonization and creating inclusive education policies. Students in attendance had the opportunity to speak with the panelists and the keynote speaker during lunch.
Discussing Decolonizing Community
Michael F. Charles, Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion opened the day by encouraging the audience to take the opportunity to critically examine Canada’s history and engage in a conversation about how education can contribute to a deeper understanding of human rights and decolonization. He noted that events like Inclusion Day provide a moment for the university community to participate in a global conversation about indigenization, reconciliation, anti-racism and inclusion.
Michael F. Charles ended his introduction by noting, “Each of us plays a role in creating an inclusive community and from that work, each of us benefits.”
Dean Lorne Sossin of Osgoode Hall Law School introduced keynote speaker Kathleen E. Mahoney who spoke about: “Reconciliation and Recognition: Canada’s Origin Story.” Professor Mahoney discussed the need to critically examine Canada’s dominant historical narratives and consider the country’s foundation from a range of diverse perspectives to learn from the past and work towards a more inclusive future.
“History must be re-thought,” she said. “Recognition, reconciliation and the ability to be critical of the rule of law go hand in hand to make a better country.”
Introducing the Inclusion Lens
During the lunch break, Heather Shipley, REI Advisor, Education and Communications and Natasha Prashad, Coordinator, Committees and Student Outreach, announced the launch of the Inclusion Lens Report, which will be available on REI’s website by February 1, 2018. The Inclusion Lens is an event management tool that helps planners ensure that their event is inclusive and accessible to all. The Inclusion Lens was developed in partnership between REI and the Lassonde School of Engineering in 2016; the report offers background to the lens, including the consultation phase, and points to ongoing use, feedback and refinement. If you are hosting an event on campus, consider using the Inclusion Lens or contacting REI for event planning assistance.
Discussing Decolonizing Curriculum
Professor Mahoney moderated a panel discussion on “Decolonizing Curriculum: Aspects and Action.” The panel featured experts in education, dance, community activism and engineering. Ixchel Bennett, Kate Cornell and Spiros Pagiatakis discussed the ways in which institutions across sectors can positively contribute to decolonizing curriculum, including encouraging practices of self-reflection, grounding oneself in Indigenous knowledge and working together as a community to inspire action.
Connect with REI
Inclusion Day 2018 provided an excellent opportunity to listen and learn about creating an inclusive campus community. If you were unable to attend the event this year, keep an eye out for Inclusion Day 2019! To learn more about REI and their upcoming events on campus, visit their website. You can also learn about upcoming workshops, resources and events by following @YorkURights on Twitter and Facebook, or by following the REI events calendar.