Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

Oppression at Queen's: Open Letter from SHARE

July 20, 2020

Dear Queen’s University community,

We are the Social Healing and Reconciliatory Education research group (SHARE). SHARE is a cross-disciplinary group based in the Faculty of Education and is composed of students, staff, and professors that do research and work in social justice across various departments and faculties.

Multiple incidents have threatened the safety and well-being of marginalized members of the Queen’s community over the past year. These incidents include the discriminatory treatment of Asian students in response to COVID-19, ongoing reports of systemic racism/oppression including the stories shared through Stolen by Smith and Erased by FEAS, and the racist and homophobic attacks at Four Directions and Queen’s residence (for which we would like to direct your attention to the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s definition of a hate crime). These disturbing and oppressive incidents remind us that we still have a great deal of work to do as we strive to create a safe and inclusive environment at Queen’s.

Over the past few months, SHARE and the Faculty of Education Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee have collaboratively worked to implement equity initiatives to address systemic oppression at Queen’s. We have recently completed the following:

  • Hung Indigenous and pride flags by the Faculty of Education main entrance;
  • Through a partnership between Dr. Thashika Pillay and Kingston Immigration Services, added signage near the front entrance welcoming cultural and ethnic minorities;
  • Created a space on the Faculty of Education website for educational resources that discuss questions/issues related to Indigeneity, LGBTQ2S+ folx, anti-Black racism, BIPoC folx, religious minorities, and other marginalized groups;
  • Appointed Dr. Anita Jack-Davies as the Faculty of Education Senior Research Advisor (Research Initiatives, Diversity & Inclusion);
  • Produced resources to aid in equity and decolonization of Faculty of Education courses, including Indigenizing Online Learning and
  • Gathered resources to confront racism and foster diversity in online teaching to share with our community.

Although the Faculty of Education has made important progress, there is still a great deal of growing and learning needed to address its institutional biases. As such, SHARE and the Faculty of Education EDI committee will act on the following initiatives immediately:

  • Designate a central EDI space once the building is open. This room will be a safe space open to all students, staff, and faculty;
  • Add Indigenous languages of this land to the Faculty of Education communications, website, and building;
  • Add a permanent plaque to our Three Sisters Garden and Medicine Gardens;
  • Facilitate training on equity and Indigenous history and perspectives for graduate teaching fellows and teaching assistants, and continue developing and offering courses for faculty and
  • Support events and initiatives facilitated by the Teacher Candidates of Colour, Genders and Sexualities Alliance, and SHARE.

This list is a far from complete. We chose to omit long-term initiatives here to focus on actions with immediate results. We hope these short-term initiatives push you to consider what you can do today to combat oppression within Queen’s University and in our communities.

We also hope that sharing these initiatives plants a seed of hope. When we experience or witness oppression and violence targeting the most marginalized in our community, it is normal to feel immobilized and confused about how to move forward. It is not realistic nor fair to expect any one of us to solve the problem of oppression tomorrow, but that does not mean that we are powerless. Asking “how can I use my power today?” helps illuminate how hope lies not just in the structural and policy changes in our institution, but also in the little and big resistance we enact every day. This resistance, while not enough to dismantle years of systemic oppression, can send loud messages about the Queen’s, the Canada, and the world we demand to see.

To the marginalized members of our community, we would like to remind you that you are loved, you are valued, and you have every right to exist with dignity and pride as anyone else. SHARE is here if you need a space for safety and comfort.

In solidarity,
The Social Healing and Reconciliatory Education research group (SHARE)
For more information on SHARE or to connect with members, please contact Clarissa de LeonAlice Johnston, or Lindsay Morcom.