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Dean’s Statement & Commitments

The following are messages from Joy Kirchner, Dean of Libraries

Dear all:

Like many of you, I have been shocked by the tragic death of George Floyd, another unarmed Black man, who died at the hands of police in the USA. As all of us know, this is not an isolated incident, and anti-Black racism is real, deep and systemic, impacting not just those in the US but also Canada. Many have responded in protests across North America, including in Toronto and in other communities. Acts of violence, their depiction in images and video and the ensuing response take a heavy toll, especially now amid a global pandemic that is disproportionately affecting racialized communities, Indigenous communities and people of colour.

While we condemn all acts of racism, it is also vital that the Libraries as an important academic unit in the University’s ecosystem, re–assert our commitment to our core principles of equity, inclusivity, the valuing of diversity and social justice, and take actions that both support our Black community members and seek to make change. I am also aware that York University Libraries has particular responsibilities to commit to building collections and knowledge resources that support critical race pedagogy. We must also commit to an evaluation of all of our services and spaces from an anti-racism lens and commit ourselves actively to anti-racist, anti-oppression and inclusive practices. Respectful and productive dialogue cannot happen without support and a context in which people feel safe to engage in challenging but necessary conversations. York’s commitment to the Indigenous Framework and the need to recognize settler colonial histories is critical to our work ahead.  Though distinct, these issues are connected and part of an ongoing project of recognition and inclusion in which we can all participate.

There is much we need to do. To that end a strategic plan will be drafted specifically identifying goals and actions related to equity, diversity and inclusion.  The aim is to finalize the plan in Fall 2020 following input and discussion with all libraries units and departments and will serve as a system wide road map for tabled goals and actions each department and unit will undertake to further conversations and actions that will address anti-racism at all levels and in all spaces.

In the meantime, I encourage you to register for the anti-racism workshops offered by Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion: A new series of workshops begins tomorrow and are open to all staff.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Take good care,

Joy Kirchner
Dean of Libraries

York University Libraries stands in solidarity against anti-Asian racism manifested in the violent shootings that killed eight women, six of whom were Asian women, in Atlanta, Georgia on March 16th. YUL condemns all forms of racism, misogyny and violence. We at YUL extend our deepest condolences to the families of those who died and our thoughts are with those who survived the attacks.

These despicable shootings only represent the most recent examples of violent hate crime and discrimination against vulnerable Asian communities, including women, the elderly, LGBTQ+ and those with disabilities. Anti-Asian violence has increased rapidly in the year 2020 as reported in major North American cities. In Canada, there are over 969 incidents of hate-crimes against Asian Canadians reported by Fight COVID Racism since the pandemic was declared last March. The following provides a list of resources anti-Asian racism that you can access for support and report your experience:

  1. Report any anti-Asian racism you witness through the Project 1907 -, or the Fight COVID Racism -
  2. Responding to Hate Toolkit – Combat anti-Asian racism by taking action -
  3. Addressing Anti-Asian Racism: A Resource for Educators -
  4. Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice’s Face Race campaign website, that encourages all Canadians to step up to confront racism amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and to raise our voices in support of all victims of racism -

YUL condemns unequivocally anti-Asian discrimination and stands in support of colleagues, families and friends affected by this behaviour.

This is an important day of reflection and commitment to our own understanding of the truth of intergenerational harm that the Residential School systems caused to Indigenous Peoples across the country and our shared responsibilities for creating new and better relationships with Indigenous people.

As has been communicated widely, the University has provided us all with number of ways for all of us to participate in our own learning and reflection on this day with earlier sessions also recorded: I'd like to acknowledge the work of CCSD and other for their contributions to our community growth and understanding. These are being acknowledged widely by the York community in person and in social media. (Photos at end with thanks to Tanya).

We must also acknowledge this is a very difficult day for many. 

Please also reach out to me or your direct supervisor if needed.

Frost Display - thanks to Emmalyne for putting this display together.

Scott Display - curated by Jennifer Grant (Archives) with a helping hand from Anica.