McGill Alert / Alerte de McGill

Updated: Mon, 07/15/2024 - 16:07

Gradual reopening continues on downtown campus. See Campus Public Safety website for details.

La réouverture graduelle du campus du centre-ville se poursuit. Complément d'information : Direction de la protection et de la prévention.

Taking Pride in Inclusion

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In June we mark Indigenous History Month in Canada. It is an opportunity for us to celebrate the histories, cultures, languages, ways of life, and accomplishments of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. We also celebrate Pride Month in June – acknowledging the daily acts of resilience and honour the history of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. These are two significant occasions for recognizing and doing what we can to strive for true inclusion in our societies.

Let us not just commemorate these holidays and celebratory events but think through what we can do to affect positive social change and justice for all. Allyship plays a key role in this regard. This month’s convocation speaker, Minnie Grey (Hon.Doc. McGill 2024) encourages us in her speech to the School of Continuing Studies graduating class, “to become allies but please don’t become saviours. We have had enough of those.” She describes being an ally to marginalized communities like the Inuit as a “profound act of justice.” In her words, “[s]uch collaboration is the essence of justice—empowering rather than overpowering, listening rather than dictating.” These words ring true for all communities that find themselves underrepresented, discriminated against, and the subject of continuing bias, prejudice, and misinformation.

Through the School of Continuing Studies Indigenous Relations Initiative (IRI), we seek not only to support, and collaborate with, our Indigenous learners and partners but also to provide the resources to our community of faculty, instructors, staff and students to be better allies through Indigenous knowledge sharing, cultural awareness building, and integrating the means to reconciliation throughout our curriculum and work. IRI is there for you, for all of us!

Members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community have made great strides in terms of formal legal human rights but unfortunately still all too often face social stigma and discrimination. I return here to Minnie Grey’s reminder that “law is certainly important but does not mean anything without justice.” She then asked each of us to reflect on the meaning of justice for ourselves. “How do you see yourselves contributing to a just society?” Advocacy and allyship are crucial tools in our collective effort to build a truly inclusive and just society. Small acts can go a long way – for example how we use pronouns. Ask your colleagues, friends, and neighbours how they would like to be identified before making assumptions about gender identity. Jacqueline Chen and Samantha Joel in a recent article (HBR, 2023) identified three components to good allyship for 2SLGBTQIA+ colleagues: “being accepting, taking action, and having humility (i.e., being an active listener).” Accept and honour the rights that each human being has and the value they bring to the table. Take time to learn more about 2SLGBTQIA+ issues and consider what you can do to combat discriminatory practices. Speak up if you see someone being disrespected for any reason, including their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Returning again to Minnie Grey’s sage council, “amplify… voices, but please don’t speak for [members of marginalized communities] or over [them].” And let us invest with pride in building a truly inclusive working and learning community.

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