Statement Addressing Racism

Dear BSW and Social Service Diploma students,

As faculty and staff from the VIU Social Work program, we are writing to communicate our solidarity and support for the calls to end all forms of systemic and interpersonal anti-Black racism in Canada, in the United States and elsewhere around the world.

The recent acts of police violence and brutality in the United States, leading to the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others, have an echo in this country. Systemic racism exists in Canada.  At least 27 Black, Indigenous and other racialized individuals have been killed by police across Canada in the past seven years alone. Most recently, these include  Abdirahman Abdi, D’Andre Campbell, Stewart Kevin Andrews, Rodney Levi and Chantel Moore, while the police watchdog continues to investigate police involvement in the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet. In standing against anti-Black racism, we need to remember, as well, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and  rising anti-Asian racism and xenophobia, anti-Islam and anti-Semitism amongst others.

Like the statements from the Canadian Association of Social Work, the Canadian Association of Social Work Education, the British Columbia Association of Social Work, as a social work program, we recognize that we also must take action to challenge the ways that anti-African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) racism operates not only in our wider society but also in our profession, and within academia. As a program we are committed to taking action to ensure we are continually learning ourselves, while also ensuring students develop skills to recognize and help dismantle interpersonal and systemic discrimination, structural inequalities and abuse of power. As a faculty and staff, we are committed to enriching our curricula beginning this fall, to bring in more content to address anti-Black racism specifically.  We will also continue to review our curricula from a race equity and decolonial lens and create more spaces for learning and dialogue with activists, community workers and practitioners dedicated to anti-Black racism and transformative anti-racist social change. In the process of reviewing and evaluating our progress, we will be reaching out to students for your feedback in an ongoing way.

We recognize that the changes being called for are long overdue and that all of us must become actively engaged in contributing to positive change. We also recognize that the intense spotlight on racism, white supremacy and police brutality is painful and traumatizing. Please know that there are resources and supports available, if needed at VIU through the Counselling Services: How to Connect with a Counsellor at VIU.

Be informed, educate yourself about the issues and the people affected by systemic racism. There are also a great many lists of anti-Black racism resources that are circulating. We will continue to compile and make some of these lists accessible through our BSW And SSER Student Hub Sites over the year.

 Here are a number of resources and links that may be of interest to you:

 AAPF. The African American Policy Forum, Publications.

AAA. American Anthropological Association. The RACE Project.

CBC Books. 2020. 35 books to read for National Indigenous History Month.

CBC Books. 2020. 17 books to celebrate Asian Heritage Month in Canada.

CBC Books. 2020. 7 Canadian books for younger readers to check out during Black History Month 2020.

CBC Books. 2020. 7 works of Canadian nonfiction to read for Black History Month 2020.

Emma Jackson, Chanelle Gallant, Annie Morgan Banks, Johanna Lewis and Sheryle Carlson.  2020. Five Ways to Take Anti-Racist Action During COVID-19.

Fiona Tinwei Lam.  2020.  The ‘Shadow Pandemic’ of Anti-Asian Racism.

NCCIH.  National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health.  Anti-Indigenous Racism (scroll to bottom, 3 fact sheets). 

Amber Ruffin.  2020. Police: Driving as a Teen.

Ibram X. Kendi. How To Be An Anti-Racist.

David Sutherland & Jennifer Holness.  2000. Speakers for the Dead. NFB, 49min.

An Essential Reading Guide for Fighting Racism

Additional Resources (courtesy of New Society Publishers):

Guidelines for Being Strong White Allies by Paul Kivel

Seeing White podcast from the Post Carbon Institute

Six Ways to Be a Strong Ally from Sojourners Magazine

Talking to Kids About Racism with Kira Banks