For our continued commitment to social justice, please read our Faculty Position Statements listed below.
June 9, 2021
In light of the discovery of 215 Indigenous children buried in an unmarked grave on the site of the Kamloops Residential School on Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation land, the Department of Health and Society offers condolences and support to those affected by this news.
This discovery, though horrific, should not come as a surprise. Survivors of Residential Schools and their communities have known of these crimes, and others, for decades. Many survivors testified to these crimes publicly before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission between 2008 – 2015. Despite these courageous testimonies, it has taken this heartbreaking discovery for these crimes to be taken seriously in the public eye and for these lost lives to be recognized. We grieve the loss of these lives and the families and communities devastated by these deaths.
The Department of Health and Society condemns any discriminatory, racist or violent treatment of Indigenous people. This includes attempts to erase or minimize crimes perpetrated against Indigenous people by the Canadian government and its agencies, including religious organizations, both historically and in the present day. We recognize that colonialism is a contemporary state of affairs in Canada and that it exacts an ongoing toll on Indigenous people on this land. We are firmly committed to listening to – and believing – Indigenous people’s accounts of colonialism, racism, and discrimination.
There are many resources available about Residential Schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the ongoing effects of continued colonial violence in Canada. The Reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, along with several related, historical reports are available at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Centre website. U of T has developed a library guide containing resources about the Truth and Reconciliation and the UTSC library has prepared an Indigenous Book Club library guide. The University of Toronto’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Answering the Call: Wecheehetowin, lays out the concrete steps the University will take to address the calls to action set out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. An annual report on the University’s progress is also available, and more information can be found on the website for the Office of Indigenous Initiatives. You may also be interested in reading U of T President Meric Gertler’s statement regarding the discovery in Kamloops. To learn more about traditional lands and territories, treaties, languages, and more, visit https://native-land.ca/.
As a department, the calls to action outlined in Answering the Call: Wecheehetowin serve as our guide, but there are many additional steps our department can take, including learning more about how to decolonize our curriculum and course syllabi. We remain committed to working toward justice in our pedagogy and research and we pledge our ongoing support to those who engaged in the fight against colonial violence.
Resources are available for Indigenous students, staff, and faculty who need additional support in the wake of the recent discovery at the site of the Kamloops Residential School. At UTSC, support is available through the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Office. Indigenous students can also contact Indigenous Student Services for additional support. Staff, faculty, and students can also consult this list of supports, developed by the Centre for Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto. First Nations House is the central hub at U of T offering culturally relevant services for Indigenous students. For immediate support, National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available by calling 1-866 925-4419.
June 9, 2021
We were horrified to learn of act of white supremacist terrorism that resulted in the deaths of four Muslim members of the same family, and serious injuries to a fifth this weekend. The Department of Health and Society denounces all forms of Islamophobia and joins communities within Scarborough and across Canada in mourning those killed in Sunday’s attack.
Canada has a long tradition of white supremacist violence, which often goes unacknowledged. We recognize that as researchers, teachers, and community members, it is our responsibility to identify and expose Islamophobia, to teach others of the pervasiveness of white supremacy, and to work toward justice. To learn more about the Islamophobia and white supremacy in Canada, visit the National Council of Canadian Muslims website.
The University of Toronto has established a Working Group on Islamophobia as part of its ongoing commitment to inclusive excellence. This working group is one of U of T’s Anti Racsim Stategic Tables, formed to “understand and respond to the needs of campus communities experiencing racism and religious discrimination.” You can learn more about the Anti-Islamophobia Community Working Group by visiting this link. To learn about UTSC’s anti-racism initiatives, visit the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office at UTSC.
We encourage members of the UTSC community who need additional support to reach out to the U of T My Student Support Program line, which offers 24/7 emergency counselling services by dialing 1-844-451-9700 (Outside of North America, call 001-416-380-6578). Students may also contact the Health and Wellness Centre for non-emergency support. For off-campus support, students can contact Naseeha, a support service for Muslim Youth
If you experience or witness Islamophobic harassment or abuse within the U of T campus or community, please contact the Community Safety Office or the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office at UTSC. Please visit this website, from the U of T Faculty of Medicine, for more information on supporting people who are experiencing racism or harassment.
DHS Statement on COVID-19, Discrimination, and Anti-Asian Racism
March 17, 2021
In light of recent media attention on anti-Asian racism and violence against women, we want to share with you our continuing commitment to working towards a more just society. While recent events and the COVID-19 pandemic have turned attention to anti-Asian racism, we recognize that this violence and the struggle against it are longstanding. As a Department, we are working to address the root causes of racism and other intersecting forms of violence and to develop anti-oppressive practices. We will not tolerate such violence in our classrooms or on our campus. If you are experiencing any form of discrimination, we encourage you to reach out to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office at UTSC for support.
Please see below for the Department of Health and Society's Statement on COVID-19. Click here to read the Department’s Statement on Anti-Black Racism.
DHS Statement on COVID-19
The University of Toronto is committed to equity, human rights, and respect for diversity. All members of the learning environment in this department—students, teaching assistants, and educators alike—should strive to create an atmosphere of mutual respect that allows us to engage with one another while respecting our myriad differences. U of T does not condone discrimination or harassment against any persons or communities.
At DHS, our core values include integrity, interdisciplinarity, scholarly excellence, responsible relationships, and justice-oriented praxis. These core values inform our response to COVID-19. As COVID-19 spreads, and pandemic responses evolve, this disease and its aftermath is not impacting all people and communities in Canada equally. Both COVID-19 and attempts to address it have had a disproportionate impact on people of colour, Indigenous people, people living with disabilities, the elderly, gender and sexual minorities, and people of lower socioeconomic status. At DHS, we are committed to understanding and responding to the COVID-19 crisis in ways that recognize and respond to these inequities.
DHS strongly denounces xenophobia, racism, ageism, and labour-related discrimination. If you experience any form of discrimination, we encourage you to reach out to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office at UTSC for support. If you witness microaggression or harassment, we encourage you to interrupt harmful messages and/or misinformation from being shared and offer support to the person being harmed. Please visit this website, from the U of T Faculty of Medicine for more information on supporting people who are experiencing racism or harassment.
Health Studies students -- Click here for a message from the Director re. COVID-19
The violent deaths of Regis Korchinski-Paquet and D’Andre Campbell in Canada and of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Breanna Taylor in the United States are only the most recent examples of anti-Black racism and state violence in North America. The Interdisciplinary Centre for Health & Society denounces such racism and violence and joins our students, colleagues, families, and friends in solidarity as we resist any effort to accept or normalize anti-Black racism and state violence. We support the statement made by Black health leaders declaring anti-Black racism a public health crisis.
DHS understands that it is our responsibility as teachers, researchers, community members, family members, and friends to stand against this racism and other intersecting forms of structural violence rooted in white supremacy, colonialism, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism. It is also our responsibility to take action. Toward that end, ICHS commits to making a special effort to
- continue to educate ourselves about anti-Black racism;
- recruit, hire, and retain Black scholars in faculty, staff, teaching assistant, and postdoctoral positions;
- support the academic excellence of Black students and challenge structural obstacles to their success;
- collaborate respectfully and actively with community groups that fight anti-Black racism and foreground racial justice and anti-oppression in their movements toward health and well-being;
- make curricular change in our undergraduate degree programs, including the launch of a course that addresses anti-Black racism and state violence as public health concerns; and
- advocate for meaningful institutional and systems change.
It is our pledge to listen more intently, learn from one another and from our mistakes, and be audacious in our individual and collective efforts to work toward a more just and healthy world where Black lives not only matter but are also celebrated.
Department of Health and Society
(Laura Bisaillon, Hilary Brown, Élyse Caron-Beaudoin, Andrea Charise, Obidimma Ezezika, Ghazal Fazli, Jessica Fields, Cassandra Hartblay, Maureen Murney, Suzanne Sicchia, Michelle Silver, Nicholas Spence—signatories as of June 4, 2020)