UBC to addresses Scarborough Charter on anti-Black racism

Wisdom Tettey

Panellists at the first-ever forum on the Scarborough National Charter are hoping to address how to make campuses more inclusive for Black students and staff.

The event, Community Making and Black Flourishing Through the Scarborough Charter, is being hosted by the University of British Columbia at the Robson Square campus.

Handel Wright, senior advisor to UBC’s president on anti-racism and inclusive excellence said that he hopes the group is able to come up with ways to encourage more Black people to attend and work at Canadian universities and colleges.

He said he also hopes people attending the event will be able to find ways to hold institutions accountable for their progress on Black representation on their campuses.

“It’s about Black presence … not just physically people being here but in Black knowledge, Black ways of knowing, Black approaches to knowledge,” Wright said in a phone interview.

“All of those things are part of what we’re hoping to promote throughout all of Canada.”

The event comes after more than 50 universities and colleges across the country signed the Scarborough Charter, which pledges to fight anti-Black racism in post-secondary institutions.

It was launched in November 2021, drafted by an advisory committee that emerged from an event hosted by the University of Toronto in 2020, as anti-Black racism was in the international spotlight following the murder of George Floyd.

Handel Wright

The event brings together four panels of administrators, faculty, advisors, students, and community activists from across the province and country, to address topics such as why a charter for Black representation is needed and how to provide a supportive environment for Black students.

Wisdom Tettey, head of the Scarborough Charter steering committee, said in a written statement that the forum provides the first opportunity for people to meet in person to come up with action plans.

Wright also said Black people and their cultures are “acutely underrepresented” in B.C., and the forum is a chance to build better connections between universities and colleges and the province’s Black community.