Since its founding, Concordia has aimed to provide broad, equal access to opportunity. Living up to those ideals means applying the spirit of unbiased inquiry that informs our academic mandate to every aspect of our operations.
The murder of George Floyd in May 2020, preceded by those of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery earlier in the month, amplified international cries in support of Black Lives Matter. These events sparked worldwide demands for action to tackle anti-Black racism that is systemic in institutions.
Here at Concordia, an open letter circulated in June 2020 demanding action. The university listened. Since that time, Interim Provost Anne Whitelaw has been working closely with members of the Black Caucus of Concordia and other stakeholders to design the structure and membership of the task force.
The task force co-chairs, leadership team and sub-committees will undertake the important work of addressing anti-Black racism at Concordia.
The task force's mandate is to oversee wide-ranging anti-racism efforts across Concordia in order to help the university better serve as a diverse and welcoming place with deep connections to the community.
The task force will direct and coordinate the work needed to generate recommendations that will address systemic anti-Black racism based on the experiences of faculty, staff and students.
The task force will work in conversation with the Indigenous Directions Leadership Council and ultimately with Concordia's Equity Office to make recommendations that address systemic racism intersectionally.
November 30, 2020: The task force will finalize the sub-committees’ membership, define their terms of reference and present a workplan to the interim provost.
April 2021: Concordia’s interim provost will receive a progress report on the work of the sub-committees that identifies immediate action items.
April 2022: Concordia’s president will receive a comprehensive set of recommendations and action plans to combat anti-Black racism at Concordia.
Task force composition
The task force is headed by two co-chairs of a 15-person leadership team.
Angélique Willkie, associate professor, Contemporary Dance, Faculty of Fine Arts
Annick Maugile Flavien, founding coordinator, Black Perspectives Office
The 15-person leadership team includes undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, union representatives, a representative of the Black Caucus of Concordia and the heads of the eight subcommittees.
Undergraduate and graduate students: Harvin Hilaire, undergraduate student; Lisa Ndejuru, graduate student
Alumni and union representatives: Evan Pitchie, Concordia alumnus; Linda Dyer, Concordia University Faculty Association; Jacqueline Peters, Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association; Sarah Mazhero, Concordia Student Union
Black Caucus of Concordia (BCC) representative: Jamilah Dei-Sharpe, BCC coordinator
Leads of the eight sub-committees
In order to address the multiple manifestations of racism experienced by Black members of the Concordia community, the task force has identified eight sub-committees that will explore and make recommendations on specific issues.
The lead of each of the sub-committees will sit on the task force leadership team and support the co-chairs in advancing the work of the task force.
Each sub-committee lead will work with an institutional support person who will be able to answer questions about existing policies and practices and identify resources that will help the sub-committee in its deliberations and in making recommendations.
Lead: Lisa White, Office of Rights and Responsibilities
examining existing campus security policies and processes as well as relations with external security organizations (including the SPVM) in order to establish Concordia as a safe space for Black students and to foster respectful relations with members of Concordia’s Black community
researching anti-racist trainings, protocols and best security practices from other Canadian universities and institutions that can strengthen Concordia’s security training
examining systems in place for complaints and evaluating the community’s access to these services
consulting with Concordia and the wider Montreal Black community in order to recommend training efforts that are tailored to the needs and concerns of the Black community who are disproportionately targeted by police
Lead: Sharon Nelson, John Molson School of Business
examining training programs available for the campus community around EDI and recommending further development that specifically addresses anti-Black racism
researching and recommending anti-racism training programs, tools and resources for faculty, staff and students to address anti-Black racist microagressions and bias in the classroom and the workplace
consulting with Concordia’s Black community and other Canadian universities in order to recommend training programs and best practices that are tailored to the spectrum of needs and concerns of the Black community
researching and recommending systems for compiling data that can continue to inform training efforts
Lead: Christiana Abraham, Faculty of Arts & Science
researching and examining Concordia’s and its founding institutions’ (Sir George Williams University and Loyola University) historical relations with Black Communities within and outside the institution, in order to provide recommendations on how to honour and highlight this history
working with Concordia archivists and librarians towards identifying possibilities for mobilizing Concordia’s Black community archives and library
researching and rebuilding previous relationships with Montreal’s Black community and forming new pathways and relationships with the community
recommending sustainable models of engagement with the local and international Black communities
Lead: Françoise Naudillon and Angela Kross, Faculty of Arts and Science
researching and exploring means of integrating Black perspectives into existing curriculum across the university
researching Black Studies major and minor programs in other Canadian universities to recommend the best options for Concordia
examining curricula and educational tools currently offered and develop recommendations to ensure that these reflect the diversity of Concordia’s community, the diversity of global knowledge, and support an anti-racist framework
further the inventory of courses currently available around Black perspectives
diversify resources and content for courses to include Black perspectives
research other universities’ protocols to address issues of the lack of Black perspectives curriculum in STEM and the John Molson School of Business
identify access to information on the courses available and ability to register
Lead: Lisa Ndejuru, PhD student, Faculty of Arts and Science
consulting with Concordia’s Black students to identify the spectrum of needs, concerns, and required resources to best support the physical and mental health of Black undergraduate and graduate students, as well as their academic success
examining and evaluating the performance and accessibility of student services available for the campus community in considering the needs and concerns of Black students
developing recommendations for student services that are anchored in an anti-racist framework
recommending systems for compiling data that can continue to inform these services.
Leads: Linda Dyer, John Molson School of Business and Roch Glitho, Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science
identifying and developing support mechanisms and resources for Black full- and part-time faculty members, including best practices with respect to recruiting, hiring; career advancement including tenure and promotion; and recognition of the additional emotional labour of Black faculty
researching best practices at other Canadian universities in encouraging recruitment, support for Black faculty, initiatives related to funding, post-doc invitations, research chairs, visiting professors, etc.
working with librarians to identify possibilities of diversifying Concordia’s library
Lead: Jacqueline Peters, Faculty of Arts and Science
researching models of support and resources for Black staff, including best practices with respect to hiring and supports for career advancement
examining employment initiatives and developing recommendations that target and specifically encourage Black community hiring. Identify departments and services in need of greater representation
researching best practices of other Canadian universities in encouraging recruitment, facilitating networking, recognizing the additional emotional labour of Black staff and offering adequate support for Black staff