EDI at BCcampus: A Snapshot of Today
Our perspectives shape our perceptions, and we recognize we still have much to learn; our opinions and understandings will change as we continue to learn, unlearn, and grow.
“We acknowledge we are sharing from a position of privilege and power and that we do not speak for BCcampus as a whole.”
“It is undeniable that settlers are benefactors of systematic genocide, and the country that many celebrate living in was built on broken promises, children being taken from their families and communities, and stolen land. For non-Indigenous people, it is important to understand and acknowledge the role the Canadian government and organized religion played and continue to play in the systemic oppression of Indigenous people and reflect on our personal responsibilities in working toward reconciliation. Reflection is required but is also not enough. Reconciliation begins with taking concrete action to move us forward in our learning and relationships with Indigenous Peoples and histories.”
— Excerpt from op-ed article written collaboratively by a small team at BCcampus
Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) aren’t milestones — they’re the fundamental components required to create a welcoming culture for everyone. At BCcampus, we are working toward becoming an employer that attracts people interested in improving teaching and learning in B.C., a place where they know they are welcome because of their differences, not in spite of them. We share activities we’re working on so we can repeat what works and learn from what doesn’t. At BCcampus, our approach is “Learning. Doing. Leading,” and with regard to EDI, we’re still in the learning (and unlearning) stage.
Some of the things we have focused on during our journey of unlearning this past fiscal year include:
We acknowledge that the impact of racism is real, interpersonal, institutional, and systemic. We also acknowledge that our country’s current foundation, built and imposed by white people, rests on the dispossession, displacement, and genocide of Indigenous peoples, which continues to this day. At this very moment, racialized people continue to face consistent oppression and marginalization at the hands of colonial structures, institutions, and processes (continued in the BCcampus Anti-Racism Statement).
Last fall BCcampus offered a Book Club Hub for book-club leaders to both share and garner skills in facilitating discussions about the difference between non-racist and anti-racist. We invited book-club leaders and those who would be facilitating such conversations at post-secondary institutions across the province to join our Hub.
Using one of the guide’s exercises in our final synchronous session, participants in the Book Club Hub collaborated to create the following anti-racism statement: BCcampus Anti-Racism Statement [pdf].
How We Make Family: Making Decolonization Personal
Jonathan Orr, project manager for provincial peer training curriculum at BCcampus, wrote a poignant op-ed piece about his personal learnings from time spent on Tsawwassen lands.
“But perhaps these thoughts illustrate the colonial patterns of thinking that got us to this point in the first place: the belief that we can immediately dive in and ‘solve’ a problem permanently so we can check a box and then proceed to ignore the actual people the problem affected. The paternalistic idea that it is up to me as an individual to do this and the arrogance to even consider that. The perfectionist instinct to read, gather facts, and assemble arguments so I can dominate the conversation while emphasizing a sense of urgency and crisis that deliberately makes it difficult to be inclusive or to engage in thoughtful decision-making. The need to be comfortable. To absolve myself.”
A Digital Citizenship Collaboration — Inclusion in Action!
In B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions, adult special education (ASE) programs respond to the needs of a diverse group of learners. Individuals with disabilities or with a combination of barriers to education, employment, or independence, are eligible to enroll in these programs and courses in accordance with institutional guidelines. ASE programs also respond to industry and community needs and relate to local labour market trends.
Christina Cederlof, an associate teaching professor in the Education and Skills Training Program in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), along with Helena Prins, an advisor on the BCcampus Learning and Teaching team, and Dr. Matthew Stranach, coordinator of Educational Technologies at TRU, pulled their experience, expertise, and passions together to create a province-wide event with the goal to provide a sense of community for ASE participants and instructors while offering an inclusive and meaningful learning experience on digital citizenship.
The BCcampus team will continue to promote and offer skill development opportunities for instructors that will equip them to create both face-to-face and online learning environments where all students thrive. One of the next steps for instructors who want to deepen their understanding and commitment to inclusive classroom environments is our brand-new two-week FLO Universal Design for Learning (UDL) course, which starts May 3. We also hope to build on the success and learnings of our collaboration with TRU and Selkirk College and offer another ASE symposium in the coming year.