Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education to work towards equity at Laurier

Photo by Darien Funk

On Nov. 18, Wilfrid Laurier University signed the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education. 

Barrington Walker, the associate vice-president of equity, diversity and inclusion at Laurier explained that the document has been drafted by a steering committee and an anti-advisory committee. 

It discusses ways in which universities can address the access, inclusion and success of Black students, faculty and staff in Canadian universities. 

“The Scarborough Charter is a document that lays out a number of principles and some actions for universities to pursue this goal,” he said.

Over 40 other universities and colleges in the country signed as well, including  University of Waterloo,  University of Guelph and McMaster University. 

The charter guides action related to four principles: Black flourishing, inclusive excellence, mutuality and accountability.

“[Signing this charter] shows our commitment to the guiding principles, actions and preamble which talks about the challenges that have faced African descended people in universities in Canada since their founding. It also signifies our commitment to dealing with issues of equity and inclusion more broadly.”

This document is the first time that the nature of anti-Black racism has been named specifically and names the conditions where Black members of the university can thrive. 

Institutions also need to think about concrete strategies that address anti-Black racism, Black inclusion and oppression on campus. 

“The charter gives Wilfrid Laurier University and other universities a way of thinking through how to address that in our specific institutional contexts,” Walker said.

As for the future of EDI at Laurier, the university is signatory to the Dimensions Plot Program to address EDI in research ecosystems of universities, as well as the ongoing EDI Action Plan

“[The Scarborough Charter] is going to be a living document that I think is going to have a lasting legacy in Canada… it’s a very strong and inspiring document.”

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