Earlier this summer, Emily Carr University of Art + Design reaffirmed its steadfast commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion by endorsing the Government of Canada’s Dimensions charter.
Launched in May by Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s Minister of Science and Sport, Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is a pilot program designed to drive recognition that a multiplicity of perspectives, lived experiences and the overall complexity of diverse individuals foster increased excellence and creativity within the post-secondary sector.
The program takes a multidimensional approach to equity, diversity and inclusion to achieve a future research community where all can thrive.
“We at Emily Carr University are proud to officially endorse the Government of Canada’s Dimensions charter, further bolstering our ongoing commitment to the diversification and betterment of our institution and its methods, systems and community,” said Gillian Siddall, ECU’s President and Vice-Chancellor.
“We are thrilled to see the federal government move forward on this initiative. Adopting its principles offers Canadian institutions like ours an opportunity to expand on their strengths with respect to inclusivity, and to take a good hard look at those crucial instances of systemic inequity which so desperately need redress, and which too often go overlooked.”
Signatories to the charter recognize that equity, diversity and inclusion strengthen and support the quality, relevance and impact of innovation and research, and commit to implementing actions to address systemic obstacles affecting underrepresented, disadvantaged and historically marginalized groups and individuals.
Such groups include, but are not limited to women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups, and members of LGBTQ2+ communities.
Toward that goal, the charter provides eight principles designed to help transform postsecondary research environments. Institutions that endorse the charter commit to imbuing their policies, practices, action plans and culture with those eight principles.
Inclusivity and diversity are two of Emily Carr University’s core values, and the university constantly strives to improve its strategies for the creation of communities that foster social justice. ECU’s endorsement of the Dimensions charter builds on the university’s existing emphasis on equity as a guiding principle of its institutional strategy.
Engaging in practices of decolonization and indigenization at the institutional and individual levels are likewise fundamental to ECU’s ongoing commitment to fully integrating Indigenous knowledge into its teaching and learning systems.
ECU has a long history of supporting Indigenous creative practices and research methods. A concerted effort to increase Indigenous representation among the faculty began in 2007, and the 2015 appointment of Richard Hill, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Studies, marked another key milestone.
The Aboriginal Gathering Place — a purpose-built facility designed to provide the nearly 100 Indigenous students studying at ECU with support, cultural programming and a home away from home on campus — was established in 2010. The Gathering Place’s new home within
Emily Carr’s purpose-built campus — which opened its doors in 2017 — is a central hub both in architectural terms, and in terms of the university’s community. Today, ECU offers courses such as Aboriginal Design and Technology, Studies in Contemporary Aboriginal Art, and BC Aboriginal Art History.
And in February, ECU announced it had begun the hiring process for five new Indigenous faculty members. This cluster hiring initiative is designed to introduce an interdisciplinary group of Indigenous academics to the university at the same time, doubling the number of tenured and tenure-track Indigenous faculty at ECU.
“Although we have amazing support throughout the Emily Carr community with working towards decolonization, there is still much to be done,” Brenda Crabtree, a practicing artist since 1999, said at the time.
“Our goal is to infuse Indigenous ways of knowing throughout the university. Hiring five new Indigenous faculty members is an important step in reaching that goal.”
Aside from teaching and research in their respective fields, the new faculty will help guide ongoing initiatives to build cultural competency at every level within the university through strategic planning and community workshops.