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The Dean's Corner: Spring, EDI and Building Healthier Communities

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Spring updates from Dr. Carola Weil, Dean of Continuing Studies

Joyeux printemps! Happy Spring! This is the season of nature’s rebirth. You do not need to be a nature lover to appreciate the blooming of spring flowers and longer hours of daylight and sun. And while the avid winter sports lovers might lament the disappearance of snow (well, almost), most of us look forward to thinner coats and wearing something other than snow boots.  

April is also a month of holidays. Whether you are celebrating Easter, Passover or Ramadan, I wish you a peaceful and joyous time with family, friends and your community – even at a social distance. It is difficult to get into the mood for celebrations when there is a good chance that you will be sitting on one side of a video screen once again or far apart from your loved ones. But I do hope you take some time to reflect and rejoice. 

We are still in the throes of the pandemic, and we must remain vigilant for some time to come. And yet there is hope here too. More and more people are able to access vaccines. If you have concerns or questions about the benefit of vaccinations, please do consult with your physicians, pharmacists, or others. This is each individual’s personal choice. You may have concerns about the relative effectiveness and benefit of vaccines. For me personally, the fact that these vaccines will reduce the likelihood of death - either my own or others - significantly, is the most important factor for getting vaccinated.  

While hope beckons, we must also do what we can to build a healthier community and society. This includes a redoubled focus on equity, diversity, inclusion (EDI) and anti-racism. Individuals of Asian and African descent, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples continue to face systemic discrimination, aggression and hatred. People - including members of our community - are targeted for their religious beliefs or singled out and even excluded from opportunities for the language they speak, or their cultural heritage. This is unacceptable!  

For this reason, I am creating a standing, schoolwide working group to lead refinement and implementation of an EDI and anti-racism plan. The group’s membership (which will have several specialized subcommittees) will be announced later this month. We will focus a series of virtual townhalls on these difficult but essential questions (details coming soon) and we are creating a dedicated website with resources and a statement of principles for your benefit and information. An inclusive workplace and learning environment is essential for all of our success and well-being. It is not a “nice-to-have” but a “must-have.” We cannot shy away from difficult and courageous conversations with one another. Each one of us has a responsibility to do our part to ensure that no member of our community and the community at large is excluded from opportunity. 

As you celebrate spring and the holidays, please take a moment to reflect on this serious work ahead of us. This is a lifelong journey which we must undertake together. Let us travel in peace but ready to take action.   

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