Statement on the importance of diversity & inclusion

At UVic, we each have a responsibility and a role to play in creating an equitable, diverse and inclusive community. The Faculty of Fine Arts and the Department of Theatre agree that embedding equity, diversity and inclusion in all that we do is not only the right thing to do but essential for attracting and retaining people with the knowledge, perspectives and skills we need to achieve excellence.

The Department of Theatre stands with the University against racism and intolerance. As most recently indicated in the statement of President Jamie Cassels (https://www.uvic.ca/news/topics/2020+notice-standing-against-racism+notice), diversity is fundamental to UVic’s excellence and to the wellbeing and strength of our university. We work daily across campus in all units and departments to uphold our shared values and commitment to be an inclusive, supportive and welcoming community.

Our commitment is a key part of the vision and values in the University’s Strategic Framework, and Indigenous Plan (2017-2022). Our goals for greater equity, diversity and inclusion are defined in and supported by several existing University policies which apply to our community members including the Policy on Human Rights, Equity and Fairness (GV0200); Discrimination and Harassment Policy (GV0205) and the Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Policy (GV0245)—all which protect against or provide recourse for racist behaviour. Additionally, the Department of Theatre is guided by the Faculty of Fine Arts’ “Equity Plan” (2016) and the department’s updated “Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Guidelines”.

The department acknowledges that anti-racist work is intersectional work and a person’s experiences are shaped by the interaction of different social positions (e.g. sex, sexual identity, gender identity or expression, Indigeneity, racial and ethnic background, ability, faith, migration status, etc.). These interactions are rooted in interconnecting systems and structures of power and produce intersecting forms of privilege and oppression shaped by colonialism, racism, homophobia, ableism, patriarchy, transphobia, queer antagonism, trans antagonism, bi antagonism, and/or any other form of discrimination. We will continue to work to reduce all barriers, systemic and individual.

We have actively sought to expand our awareness and build skills in equity, diversity and inclusion, including anti-racism. Since 2014, the Department has held in-house equity workshops for faculty, staff, and sessional instructors such as “Sexual Harassment on Campus” presented by Kathleen Bellamano, “Transgender Students” presented by Kingsley Strudwick from Ambit Gender Consulting and “Introduction to EQHR and Case Resolution” presented by Kylie Buday (EQHR). Faculty and staff regularly attend equity and unconscious bias workshops, anti-discrimination workshops, and Indigenous acumen training sessions organized by the Equity and Human Rights Office (EQHR), the Faculty of Fine Arts, the Faculty of Fine Arts’ Indigenous Resurgence Coordinator, and First People’s House. Recently, faculty and staff attended the “Anti-Racism Awareness Workshop: Pathway to self-reflection and action” led by Dr. Moussa Magassa, University of Victoria Human Rights Educator. Members of the Department of Theatre sit on the Faculty of Fine Arts’ Equity and Inclusion Committee. Yet, we know there is more work to be done.

Increasing our faculty and staff diversity is a priority for the Faculty of Fine Arts and the department. This means that each new hiring process considers the tools and resources available to ensure a fair and unbiased search that supports our diversity goals. These include unconscious bias and fair hiring workshops for the committee, use of the preferential search process (Policy on Preferential or Limited Hiring), and following good practices for the assessment of candidates.

Still, we recognize that our IBPOC students, staff and faculty continue to experience challenges and barriers that are not present for most white community members. As a department, we have a responsibility to understand those challenges and  barriers and do what is possible to mitigate them. IBPOC students, staff and faculty are welcome to discuss concerns with the department chair. In addition, the University has numerous mental health resources that students can access as needed. Supports specifically for Indigenous students include the Elders-in-Residence Program, talking circles, LE,NOṈET Campus Cousins, and Indigenous counselling services.

Current Initiatives

  • Faculty members from the department have created a drop-in for faculty to discuss approaches to anti-racism teaching practices at the Department of Theatre. They plan to hold this drop-in on a monthly basis for the foreseeable future and will post a schedule.
  • The Department of Theatre has formed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee with faculty, staff and student representatives. This committee has been working on an anti-racism action plan during the fall and spring and expects to deliver the plan to the department by May, 2021.
  • The September 2020 Indigenous Language Revitalization Festival (in planning since November 2019) has been rescheduled to September 2021. This festival in the Chief Dan George Theatre will feature the work of Indigenous artists who engage in creative work around Indigenous language issues.
  • After the 2020/21 season, the department will annually hold a guest production focusing on issues of diversity and inclusion, replacing the Spotlight on Alumni production. We will invite performances from groups in the community that feature more diversity, such as the Inter-Cultural Association of Victoria. Preliminary talks with the association were held in February.
  • The department recognizes the need to hire IBPOC artists for guest spots wherever possible. Faculty members have applied for a grant specifically to facilitate hiring IBPOC artists for residency in the department and to direct one or more mainstage plays. Even if the grant is unsuccessful, we will still strive to employ IBPOC artists and utilize the resources we have (such as the Orion Fund) to invite these artists to campus.
  • Individual instructors often invite professionals, scholars and alumni into their classrooms. Faculty are encouraged to bring IBPOC artists or scholars wherever possible into their classrooms. The honorarium fund can support these efforts, when available.

As a department and as part of the wider UVic community committed to the important values of equity, inclusion and diversity, we will continue in our work to be a welcoming and supportive environment for all students, faculty and staff.