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Universities must stand up for vulnerable communities against racialized violence

By Dr. Tom Chase Posted: June 8, 2021 2:00 p.m.

Universities must lead the way in condemning racialized violence and terrorism in Canada
Universities must lead the way in condemning racialized violence and terrorism in Canada University of Regina Photography Services

A message from Interim President, Dr. Thomas Chase

Dear members of the University community,

Last week Canada and the world learned of the unmarked burial places of 215 Indigenous children, some as young as three, on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops. The shock of this discovery, and its implications for all of us, are still being digested.

In Italy, news outlets report that police have dismantled an online hate group dedicated to anti-Semitic propaganda directed toward the young. Anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world, and Canada is not exempt. Last week Toronto Mayor John Tory spoke out against increased anti-Semitism in that city, with more than 50 incidents reported in May.

And now comes the news from London, Ontario. According to police, five people -- an extended family out for an evening walk -- were intentionally run down. Four of them were killed. The sole survivor, a nine-year-old boy, is in hospital. The suspect is a 20-year-old male who police believe targeted the family simply because they were Muslim.

I cannot adequately express my shock and sadness over this hateful, murderous violence.

That acts of violence such as this, driven by hatred and extremism, could happen in a country that purports to be welcoming to people of all ethnicities and backgrounds, is both profoundly disappointing and highly motivating to me.

Earlier this morning I met with leaders of our civic and campus Muslim communities to express my heartfelt condolences and assure them that the University of Regina community is committed to standing with them against Islamophobia and other forms of prejudice. I emphasized that the diversity of our campus community is something we celebrate and treasure. The many voices, backgrounds, and experiences we welcome here all contribute to creating a rich and rewarding campus mosaic.

I invite each of you – in fact, I challenge you all – to join me in recommitting to our collective values as outlined in our Strategic Plan, All Our Relations or kahkiyaw kiwâhkômâkaninawak.  At times like this, universities need to lead the way in modelling the kind of world we want to live in: one that fosters diversity and inclusion, provides a safe, healthy, and supportive space for all, and treats everyone with respect and dignity.

It is not enough to simply acknowledge these values. We must embody them in our teaching, learning, working, and socializing within our campus community as well as the wider community. I encourage you to reach out to your Muslim friends and neighbours to reinforce these values, and reassure them that they belong here and are safe here.

Sincerely,

Thomas Chase

Interim President and Vice-Chancellor