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Annual Report on Black Inclusion

This report reflects progress made towards meeting the objectives outlined in Addressing Anti-Black Racism: A Framework on Black Inclusion in the first year since its release, and activities identified in the Action Plan on Black Inclusion and activities undertaken across York University to support the objectives and actions.  

The Framework on Black Inclusion outlines a series of guiding values, understandings and nine (9) objectives to guide the university community in making impactful systemic change related to anti-Black racism. We recognize this is a long-term endeavour and requires everyone to work towards transformative change.

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Message from the President and Vice-President Equity, People and Culture 

In late February 2021, against the backdrop of COVID-19 and the rising consciousness of anti-Black racism and white supremacy, York University released its seminal document,...

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Year 1: Laying the Foundation 

The University released Addressing Anti-Black Racism: A Framework on Black Inclusion in February 2021. It was accompanied by a Draft Action Plan for Further Consultation. These documents were intended to catalyze the York Community and encourage immediate action while at the same time recognizing that further consultation would take place in response to both successes and gaps. The draft Action Plan also identified some actions that were already underway at the time of its writing. The objectives and activities that are described here are best understood as a continuation of efforts that will continue until we have meaningfully addressed the structural and systemic barriers that are embedded in the university and broader society. After further community consultation, the Action Plan on Black Inclusion was released in December 2021. 

The Division of Equity, People and Culture has worked diligently over the past year to lay the foundation for change and has been committed to working with and supporting the York community in taking up the calls to action laid out in the Framework on Black Inclusion. While it may be too early to measure significant change, it is hoped that the activities undertaken across the university, many of which are highlighted below, have laid a solid foundation for systemic and noticeable change that will be achieved by continuing to work together.  

Highlighted Activities 

This section highlights the actions taken by various units across the organization and is not intended as a comprehensive list.

Events and Programs to support Black student success included: 

  • Student Community and Leadership Development (SCLD) works actively with York University Black Students’ Alliance (YUBSA) and the other Black Student Associations to provide services as they plan events that advance the Black student experience at York; some of these include Black History Month programs (e.g., the weeklong event series "Celebrate While We Educate" scheduled for February 7th - 11th, 2022) 
  • Residence Life has actively integrated strengths-based programming focused on the achievements of Black Canadians in social media campaigns, portfolio programs, etc. 
  • Athletics and Recreation organized a Black Excellence & Grit Speaker Series 
  • Career Education & Development offers a series of programs and events for BIPOC students. Examples include “Strategies for Getting Hired: The Future of Workplace Diversity and Inclusion” 
  • SCLD has developed and delivered several programs focused on Anti-Black Racism including sessions related to unconscious bias, allyship and dialogue across difference as part of the Peer Leader Professional Development Series, general student leadership sessions, and more 
  • Black Student Leadership Workshop Series has been developed by SCLD and is launching in January 2022 
  • A mentorship program for Black and women students was launched by the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies 
  • Theatre Grad Fair networking event for graduating Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) students was held in May 2021 
  • Student Services in the Faculty of Arts, Media, Performance and Design (AMPD) hosted weekly zoom drop-in's specific for BIPOC students in order to provide guidance on how to apply for significant financial support. 
  • Dedicated Peer Mentor for first-year and transfer AMPD students, includes the hiring of three Black-identified peer mentors 
  • The Black Employee Network (BEN) at Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has partnered with Schulich School of Business and is supporting the School in its initiatives through mentorship opportunities, guest speakers, and potential experiential learning opportunities 

Student engagement & leadership: 

Recruitment and Admissions Activities: 

  • Black Excellence at York University (BE YU) launched. An initial event was held as a recruitment and conversion activity for future students. There were 65 registrations, and the event featured the release of a new website that curates York University supports for Black students. BE YU Peer Mentorship Program is using four SCLD-developed trainings, modified by BE YU Peer Leaders (with SCLD guidance), for Black-identified students only; BE YU Peer Leaders trained by SCLD to deliver these trainings; SCLD manages all infrastructure related to the delivery of these sessions; SCLD issues the York Black Student Excellence Leadership Certificate to Black students who complete all four sessions. Black Excellence at York University (BE YU) piloted a number of new programming initiatives and sessions including sessions on financial aid and paying for university, online learning success tips, overview of academic advising, well-being and successful approaches to learning at university, among others 
  • In partnership with Communications, the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) is redesigning the current and future student websites based on student feedback. The new websites will be more intuitive, student-centred, and accessible, with more self-service opportunities. This will ensure supports and resources specific for Black, Racialized and Indigenous students, as well as students with disabilities, are easier to find and navigate. It will also better support students with limited or no University experience navigate the information, supports, and resources applicable to them. 
  • In partnership with Communications, the OUR is increasing the customization and segmentation of student recruitment communications to increase admissions from students from equity seeking groups 
  • Changed the auditions process for the Dance programs in AMPD to include a major focus on learning African dance and hip hop or breaking 

Hiring of Black Faculty: 

Twelve new Black faculty members were welcomed to the University, with one additional Black faculty member confirmed for 2022. Additional notes: 

  • The Department of Dance opened a job posting in September 2021 for a three-year, Assistant Professorship in Popular Dance, where the search is placing a significant weight on finding a successful applicant both with professional experience and who has had a long engagement with BIPOC communities 
  • Visual Art & Art History created a professorial stream tenure-track appointment in African Art and Visual Culture at the Assistant or Associate Professor level 
  • The Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) has three designated Black full-time tenure track faculty members in Black Geographies, Planning, Physical Geography 
  • Osgoode Hall Law School (Osgoode) appointed a self-identified Black scholar as part of the dedicated Black hires for 2021-22 
  • Faculty of Science hired a Black faculty in the 2020-21 cycle and has an on-going targeted Black hire in Pure Math (MathStats) for the 2021-22 cycle 

New efforts to address unconscious bias in hiring practices 

  • Human Resources delivered unconscious bias training to leaders, including hiring managers in non-academic roles, and built education into manager onboarding in 2021. This will be included in all staff onboarding in 2022 
  • A review of the YUFA Affirmative Action Program was begun 

Establishment and Expansion of awards, scholarships and bursaries, including: 

  • The Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) raised external funds to establish scholarships for Black and Indigenous students totaling ~$150k/year to date (e.g., HSBC Awards, alumni-gifted scholarship, AlectraEDI Scholarship, Dean’s Changemaker Placements) 
  • Osgoode Hall Law School announced a number of new scholarships, including the Scotiabank Award for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (preference will be given to individuals who self-identify as Black or Indigenous); Torkin Manes LLP Bursary to create opportunities for Black students to pursue law as a career where financial circumstances may otherwise be an impediment; Frederick Homer Alphonso Davis (OHFA) Bursary for a self-identified Black JD student in financial need 
  • The Schulich Real Property Alumni Association (SRPAA) and the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate and Infrastructure at the Schulich School of Business have established the SRPAA Leadership Fund for Black and Indigenous Communities. A fundraising Campaign Cabinet has been put together to support fundraising for the Fund. The Phase 1 goal to raise $250,000 was achieved, which will fund these awards for four cohorts 
  • Led by the Kellogg-Schulich Alumni Association (KSAA) and supported by alumni and friends, the KSAA Diversity and Inclusion Award was established; the inaugural recipient will be announced in fall 2022 
  • The Schulich School of Business established many other awards, including: Gary Whitelaw Strength in Diversity Award, Canaccord Genuity Diversity Award of Excellence, Schulich Black and Indigenous Student Bursary, Scotiabank Global Scholars Award – DEI 
  • The Gertrude Mianda Prize for Excellence in Essay Writing was launched by the Glendon Race Equity Caucus.  

Black Staff Affinity Group formation is occurring and supported: 

  • Out of the consultations on the Framework and Action Plan, A York U Black Staff Network has formed, connecting non-academic staff across the university. The Office of the VP Equity, People and Culture (VP EPC) has secured funding to support the launch and activities of the Network moving forward 
  • Residence Life launched a Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour Affinity Group for residence dons and porters in January 2022, thereby creating a space for racialized and Indigenous staff members to build peer support, cultivate community, and advance agency 

Security Services Review has begun 

  • An internal expert panel is leading a review of York University’s security services to address Black and other equity-seeking and racialized community members’ desire for an alternate security services model and interactions with police on campus 

A new Human Rights Policy and Procedures was developed and approved by the Board of Governors in June 2021. This replaced an outdated Racism Policy and provides greater clarity on how the University addresses expressed concerns of discrimination or harassment based on the prohibited grounds set out in the Human Rights Code which includes race. 

Tools being developed by the Community Support & Services department related to sexual violence: 

  • Risk assessment tool being developed to use when reviewing all incoming complaints of sexual violence; will incorporate an understanding of barriers related to Black and Indigenous community members as well as economic and social barriers and how that may impact survivors and the level of services and supports that they can access 
  • Survivor guide being created to provide to community members that will help identify pathways for supports, internal and external resources and best practices will be identified all through an intersectional lens

A new Provost’s Post-Doctoral Fellowship program was launched specifically for Black and Indigenous applicants, with this year’s four recipients announced in August 2021. 

  • Environment and Urban Change Faculty is planning to participate in the Black Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program ($80K for 2yr PDF) in 2022 or 2023 
  • Lassonde School of Engineering (LSE) established the Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology (IBET) Momentum Fellowship for Domestic PhD Students, the first recipients will be selected in 2022 

EDI Awards Programs are created and supported: 

  • Strategic University funding was secured by the VP EPC to support the development and launch of an EDI Awards program beginning in 2022-23 

EDI Innovation is supported in a systemic way: 

  • Strategic University funding was secured by the VP EPC to support the development and launch of an EDI Innovation Fund beginning in 2022-23 to support initiatives across the university 
  • Lassonde introduced an EDI fund to support grassroots initiatives that reduce barriers and promote equity, diversity, and inclusion 

Events addressing systemic racism in support of developing new knowledges were held by a number of units, including: 

  • (Re)Setting the Stage: The Past, Present and Future of Casting in Canada by the Theatre department, which engaged over 300 participants from across Canada and have been viewed by hundreds more online since. The organizing committee is now co-curating a special issue of Canadian Theatre Review on the topic of Casting and Race 

Courses addressing anti-Black racism and elevating Black experiences, histories and knowledges included: 

  • THEA 3260H: Black Theatre and Performance 
  • Mainstreamed Studio Course on African Dance by making it a required Modern/Contemporary course in the BFA Honours in Dance; Scheduled African dance on weekday afternoons to value African dance class on par with regularly scheduled Ballet dance classes; Plans are underway to make African Dance a four-level course like the ballet classes 
  • Osgoode introduced a module on understanding anti-Black Racism to Ethical Lawyering in a Global Community first year course 
  • Schulich-ADBCC (A Different Booklist Cultural Centre) partnership to create an online course that fosters the spirit of entrepreneurship for Black youth in the GTA. The project is funded by the Ontario Government and the finished product will be housed on the eCampus Ontario platform, available to all postsecondary institutions in the province. The course provides resources to Black youth to realize their entrepreneurial ambitions. The series involves a presentation by a Schulich Faculty member on a business topic, followed by a presentation by a Black entrepreneur on the topic at hand and a free-flowing Q&A session with Black students from Schulich (the Executive of the Black Graduate Business Network) 

Guest Speakers, Lecturers and other related initiatives included: 

  • Dance invited four Black artists and scholars as guest studio teachers and colloquium speakers for the 2021-22 academic year. 
  • The Music Program held special lectures and workshops featuring Black musicians, including the Oscar Peterson Jazz Artist in Resident program, Gender in Jazz: A virtual panel, and Expanding the Musical Canon: a speaker series 
  • EUC supported strategic teaching & learning initiatives such as Jay Pitter’s Engaging Black People &Power; Summer 2021 Institute for Political Economy & Ecology with Prof Robin E. Kelley UCLA 

University Libraries Collection 

  • The Libraries implemented strategic change to its collection scope and provided a dedicated budget for Black studies, including Black Theory, Critical Race Studies, and Black community   
  • Virtual content displays were created for Black History Month and Black Lives Matter 

Funding to support Black scholarship:  

  • $150,000 has been committed to support Black scholars in 2021-22, and consultation has begun on the formation of a funding program for Black scholars, with the goal to launch by early 2022. As part of a $2.25 million commitment over the next three years to advance equity, diversity and inclusion through community engagement and research activities, $50,000 per year has been committed to Black community engagement projects and $250,000 per year to Black research and knowledge mobilization projects, beginning in 2022 
  • $100,000 has been committed to support the activities of York's Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) and the Harriet Tubman Institute ($50,000 per research unit) 

Training and education  

  • For Student Counselling, Health & Well-being (SCHW) staff: Anti-Oppressive Clinical Practice Training for Practicum Students occurs annually; Indigenous Healing & Seeking Safety Training: Dr. Teresa Naseba March full day training for staff in January 17, 2022; Full day training for managers February 4, 2021 
  • For Student Accessibility Services: staff training on Language, Ableism and Accessibility through the IDIA (Inter-University Disability Issues Association)  

Building Trauma-informed and anti-oppression practices: 

  • The Sanctuary Implementation Project (January 2022) being led by Student Counselling, Health & Well-being, will provide trauma-responsive practice across all program operations using a 36 month roll out process which will build internal capacity and increase sustainability of practice. The first twelve months will focus on engagement of staff through training in trauma-responsive tools and building organizational culture. Additional staff from Student Success & Engagement (including Residence Life), Student Accessibility Services, CHREI and others took part in a 5-day training 
  • Monthly Clinical Consultation where Counsellors are provided with the funds and opportunity to consult with external clinicians regarding applying an anti-oppressive lens to counselling 

Service Delivery Models are being developed and tested: 

  • Student Accessibility Services (SAS) is piloting an intake process which is routed more in a Social Models of Disability which increases access to marginalized groups as it increases the value of student self-reports in the accommodation process 
  • SAS is exploring the ability to provide choice of Accessibility Counsellor for those who express preference to meet with counsellors of a particular identity (e.g., male, female, Black-identifying, LGBTQ2S+-identifying, etc.), alongside analyzing the intake process to determine any barriers that Indigenous and Black students experience when trying to register 
  • Creation of a SCHW Practicum Committee and Terms of Reference (September 2021) to ensure diversity, inclusion, and transparency within the practicum training program 

Specialized supports and services by Student Counselling, Health & Well-being: 

  • Created and launched specialized resources for Coping with Race Related Stress  
  • Student Counselling, Health & Well-being launched the Racialized Students Support Group in Summer 2020 and continues today 
  • Students are invited to express preference to meet with counsellors of a particular identity (e.g., male, female, Black-identifying, LGBTQ2S+-identifying, etc.). Counsellor preferences as well as presenting issues related to race-based/systemic concerns are tracked 

Development of Outreach programming to engage Black youth: 

  • Athletics and Recreation is currently working with local community groups, Jane & Finch activists, community leaders, teachers & internal campus partners to create a special YouTube Live production BHM Rooted & Resilient to share personal stories about being Black and provide wisdom on how they remained rooted & resilient throughout their journeys 
  • The Lassonde School of Engineering (LSE) launched the Helen Carswell STEAM Program for Black and Indigenous Youth, where 25 Black and Indigenous students from the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) participated in a 14-week paid research program 
  • The k2i (Kindergarten to Industry) academy within the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University, in Summer 2021, welcomed 90 grades 11 and 12 students as Lab Assistants through two Bringing STEM to Life: Work-Integrated Learning programs 
  • k2i academy partnered with Black Esteem, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing black girls' interest and confidence in science, technology, engineering & mathematics across Ontario. Currently, k2i academy is hosting 25 Black girls ages 10 to 13 for an 8-week program, learning about computational thinking, coding and engineering design (in the Fall Term, 4-weeks of computational thinking and coding were completed) 
  • k2i academy partnered with the African Canadian Christian Network to mentor and support an all-Black youth First Robotics Team 
  • Tri-School Business Collaborative is co-designed and co-implemented with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Centre of Excellence for Black Student Success. It aims to provide Black students within the TDSB with an educational initiative that supports their understanding of academic pathways, and develops transferable skills based on the requirements for entry into diverse Business programmes

Student data collection underway:

  • Student Equity & Diversity Census was piloted in Fall 2021 to identify under-represented, under-served groups or those who may face discrimination, a lack of access, or exclusion. The survey was distributed to students with a 20% response rate which will inform our policies, practices, programs and services from an access and inclusion perspective. Fall 2022: phase 2 to be deployed in REM (enrolment module for students 
  • Student Accessibility Services is currently gathering demographic information about students accessing services and supports to see which student groups are underrepresented 
  • Osgoode Hall conducts an admissions survey, and identifies that 10% of its incoming class self-identifies as Black, a near 3% increase over the average of the last 5 years 

Education and training sessions for Staff and Faculty and Students across the organization 

  • Since March 2021, the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion (CHREI) has led broad-reaching custom and standardized learning opportunities for all faculty, staff and students. Since March 2021, the CHREI has delivered 59 custom and standardized sessions that all provide education and skills related to anti-oppression, the vast majority address anti-racism in part or in a focused matter, and most (27) address anti-Black racism as well as encourage learning and skill development on Black inclusion. 
  • Since Summer 2020, the REI has offered a four-part learning opportunity, the Anti-Racism Workshop Series, and offers it once a semester (totaling 12 sessions per year), including an offering of series in its entirety during Black History Month each year. These sessions—which focus on Black inclusion as well as broader forms of racism—cover unconscious bias, microaggressions, human rights legislation, intervening on racism, racial inclusion in employment, and resilience. Note as well that this series is eligible for the REDI Certificate 
  • CHREI’s yearly flagship education and engagement event, Inclusion Days in March 2021 focused on Belonging in a Virtual World and brought together approximately 450 attendees, two keynote addresses, and three skill-building workshops over the course of three days. Anti-Black and other forms of racism were addressed across this event, and the keynote, led by Dr. Andrew Campbell, offered critical perspectives on Black inclusion in educational institutions. 
  • York International undertook a full team learning program: book club including experiences of black students in academia, participation in CHREI Workshops 
  • Athletics and Recreation EDI training module for full and part time staff was developed; embedding EDI training from CHREI into annual Sport Club, IMS officials and SIRC professional development; Coaches & Varsity Staff Professional took the CHREI Unconscious Bias and Microaggressions (Jan 2021) and Intervening on Racism (Mar 2021) 
  • Student Community and Leadership Development (SCLD) has developed and delivered training programs focussed on Anti-Black Racism for professional staff 
  • SCLD has also developed and/or partnered with other units to support training sessions and training resources/tools including a tool for student leaders and campus partners: Anti-Racist Resource Document  
  • SCLD curated the three-part education series - Unlearning Hate: Recognize, Dismantle, Heal in partnership with external partners: Ontario Tech's Dr. Barbara Perry (Normalization of Hate), and the Mosaic Institute (Unlearning Hate and Healing from Hate)  
  • The Faculty of EUC promoted anti-Black racism and unconscious bias training for faculty, staff (within work hours) and the Leadership Team, which participated in several provincial and university sessions 

The appointment of the Senior Advisor on Representation and Equity to the VP Equity, People and Culture was renewed until June 30, 2022 

A University Advisory Council on Black Inclusion (name to be confirmed) was formed in February 2022 to provide advice to the University through the Vice-President Equity, People and Culture. The Council membership includes representative from Organized Research Units (ORUs), academic programs, student organizations, the Jane-Finch community and more.  

York University signed on to endorse the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education on Nov. 18, 2021. Endorsement of this charter is continued affirmation of York’s commitment to addressing the systemic anti-Black racism that pervades academia, and to fostering pan-Canadian communities of learning that build inclusive, substantive equality 

Equity Climate Review of York University’s Varsity Student-Athlete Program was undertaken and the report published with an accompanying Action Plan in Fall 2021 

Units have been writing their own plans, itemizing specific initiatives. These include: 

  • EDI embedded into the Division of Students 5-Year Strategic Plan  
  • Theatre approved an Action Plan to Equity, Diversity Decolonization and Inclusion (EDDI) within the department in August 2021, to be revisited annually 
  • A Department of Dance EDI Action Group was formed, including required representatives of the Black community in its membership for faculty, and undergraduate students 
  • AMPD Student Services hired an external consultant to review their approach to anti-Racism and anti-Black Racism. Final report to be distributed in January 2022 
  • Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change has developed an action plan and employed Research Assistants to support their response to anti-Black racism and Black inclusion efforts; established an EUC Advisory Committee on Black Inclusion 
  • The Lassonde School of Engineering launched an EDI Sub-Committee, website and action plan and incorporated EDI into the Lassonde Strategic Academic Plan 2021-26 and are developing a SharePoint site containing a curated list of resources for the Lassonde Community, which will serve as a hub of EDI related activities, news, training, and events happening across Lassonde 
  • The Schulich School of Business launched a Committee for Equity and Community in Fall 2021 
  • Faculty of Science has established a Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion 
  • Student Accessibility Services formed an EDI Committee Fall 2021 and is Developing a an Anti-Oppressive Practice Framework in consultation with external consultant, Tenniel Brown 
  • Anti-Oppressive (AOP) Clinical Consultation/Practice Framework is embedded in Student Counselling, Health & Well-being’s overarching Service Delivery Framework, a working document developed through training and consultation provided by external consultant, Tenniel Brown, Communications Consultant 
  • York International’s new internationalization and global engagement strategy's key principle is sustainable and inclusive internationalization. Key recommendations include: removing barriers: financial barriers, tailored programs & pathways; targeted promotion and engagement of parents & supporters; creating programs 'at home' to support global learning & competency development 
  • In November 2021 the Office of the University Registrar’s (OUR’s) Strategic Plan was launched. The Plan includes specific goals and actions to advance the priority of “enabling student success by providing exceptional, student-centred services that are inclusive and equitable for all” 

Land Acknowledgement 

We recognize that many Indigenous Nations have longstanding relationships with the territories upon which York University campuses are located that precede the establishment of York University. York University acknowledges its presence on the traditional territory of many Indigenous Nations. The area known as Tkaronto has been care taken by the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the Huron-Wendat. It is now home to many First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities. We acknowledge the current treaty holders, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. This territory is subject of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement to peaceably share and care for the Great Lakes region.