Statement of Solidarity to the Arts Community

A message from Dean Lesley Cormack

03 June 2020

As we bear witness across Canada, the United States, and around the world to the outrage and protests sparked by violent, systemic racism and acts of racial discrimination, I want to acknowledge that the Faculty of Arts stands in support of Black and racialized peoples who are members of our campus community and the external communities that we serve.

We condemn anti-Black racism and stand with Black communities in demanding justice and progress on equity for racialized members of our society.

Our entire community is enriched by your contributions and we all benefit from diverse voices, expertise, and experiences. The Faculty of Arts stands with Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour communities in its commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Nonetheless, the events of the past week serve to remind us that good intentions are never enough. Systemic racism is our legacy. These are not new problems, these are not isolated problems, and these are not problems to which our campus and community are immune.

The protests challenge the broader social ills of racism and, in particular, the damage done to the lives of Black and other racialized people when institutional racism and racist violence permeate the police and other state institutions. To enable long-term change, these are issues that need to be addressed in our teaching, research, and institutional processes.

We need consistently to be asking ourselves if our priority initiatives and collective efforts are advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion.

As a Faculty committed to Change for Good, our primary missions of teaching, research, and service, in addition to the well-being of our students, staff, and faculty members, depend on careful attention to the terms of EDI. We need to facilitate and encourage the conversations that bring these deep-seated and pernicious beliefs to the surface. Only through discussions animated by anti-racist commitments can we hope to create a truly equitable, diverse, and inclusive society.

The Faculty of Arts will remain committed to the mission and priorities set by our Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; to supporting the important research and teaching efforts of the Intersections of Gender signature area; to advancing EDI priorities in special initiatives such as Congress 2021; and to seeking new and better ways to ensure a more inclusive campus community.

For those of you experiencing any distress during these difficult times, we encourage you to consider accessing any of the services identified on the University of Alberta’s EDI webpage, and to consider the resources offered through the Faculty’s Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. In particular, I would draw attention to the Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights, and to President Turpin’s message of solidarity.

If you identify opportunities for the Faculty of Arts to advance its commitments to fight anti-Black racism, please share your insights with me at

Lesley Cormack