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Message to students on anti-racism

From Laurie Schnarr, Vice-Provost (Students)

June 2, 2020 — 

 

Dear students,

Over the past several days we have witnessed the destructive power of systemic anti-Black racism, and the cries for justice, retribution and action that have erupted across the United States and in Canada. I am reaching out to our Black students to acknowledge the direct impact this has had on you, to thank you for your strength and resilience, and to reaffirm my commitment and support and that of Dr. Janice Ristock, Provost and Vice President (Academic).

Racism is deeply entrenched in the policies, practices, and institutions that we navigate every day. It is not exclusive to any geographic region. It exists within the heart of our own communities. Racism is experienced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour in the form of prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping, shaped and defined by racist attitudes and beliefs.

Acts of racism are not combatted by well-intentioned notes of sympathy or expressions of outrage in social media posts. They are fought by actively engaging in anti-racist work; by educating ourselves about the various manifestations of racism in our daily lives; by recognizing those moments when we are complicit; by listening, learning and unlearning; and by using our privilege to vigorously contest hurtful norms as we encounter them. Racism is challenged every time we acknowledge that Black lives matter.

At the University of Manitoba each member of the campus community has a role to play in contributing toward an environment where all students feel recognized, valued, respected and treated fairly. For those who wish to engage in anti-racism work, I encourage you to explore this excellent list of Anti-Racism readings compiled by the UM Libraries as a place to start.

If, during this challenging time, you need to speak to someone, we are here for you. Please reach out to one of these student supports:

The strength of our community is amplified when we come together. On June 2nd, The Indigenous Student Centre Facebook Page hosted a Virtual Care Circle for the BIPOC community. This Circle focussed on offering support to each other, strategies for healing, and discussions on how we begin to move forward together.

On Friday at 6 p.m., #Justice4BlackLives is holding a peaceful rally at the Legislature featuring speakers from Winnipeg’s Black community and Indigenous kin. The organizers have stressed that public health directives, including social distancing, will be followed at the event.

Although these are troubling days compounded by the complex, challenging issues we face, we must move beyond complacency. As members of the university community, it is time to actively learn, unlearn, and address all forms of racism waged against Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. I continue to be inspired by the sense of community that characterizes our campus and I have hope that, together, we can work toward lasting change.

All my best,

Laurie

Laurie M. Schnarr, MA
Vice-Provost (Students)
Student Affairs
Office of the Provost and Vice-President (Academic)

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