Faculty of Health Sciences Task Force on Anti-Racism
Task Force Information
"Building a better Western for now, and for the future."
June 25, 2020
Dear FHS Community Members,
In October 2019, a series of racist online attacks were directed at a Western student after she shared her experiences of anti-Black racism on campus. After meeting with this young woman, and consulting with student, faculty and staff groups, President Alan Shepard struck the Anti-Racism Working Group (ARWG), which undertook the difficult work of documenting racism on campus beginning in January 2020.
The ARWG was tasked with developing a better understanding of “Western’s campus climate – particularly from the perspective of ethnocultural and racialized groups” – and with making “recommendations that aim to make Western a safer, more respectful and more equitable environment in which to study, research, work and live”. In May 2020 the ARWG submitted its final report to the President, which included a series of 24 recommendations that will help us, in the words of President Shepard, “build a better Western for now, and for the future”.
As Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), I accept this report as a call to action. I recognize that we must do more to help end racial injustice and bring about meaningful social change on our campus and in our communities. Racism of any kind has no place at Western. I join President Shepard in committing to taking concrete steps toward building a better future and to ensuring the Faculty of Health Sciences plays an active role in fighting against racism and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.
As the first step on this path, I am announcing the creation of the FHS Task Force on Anti-Racism. I will ask this task force to use the ARWG Final Report as a guide to identify and address how anti-racism impacts FHS in areas such as curriculum development, hiring practices and training. The important work of this group will help in the development of a blueprint for how FHS can work as part of the Western community to address the recommendations outlined in the ARWG Final Report.
Earlier this week, I invited Associate Professor Treena Orchard (School of Health Studies) to serve in an advisory capacity in developing the FHS Task Force on Anti-Racism. In accepting the role, Professor Orchard stressed the importance of adopting a collaborative approach that includes anti-oppression and trauma-informed frameworks. This is essential to helping ensure we do not reproduce the inequities we are aiming to address. It is critical that the leadership of this task force reflects the people and groups who experience erasure, violence and other forms of racism within our institution. In the coming days and weeks, she will reach out to Black and other racialized on-campus groups and local communities to begin building a joint leadership team.
As a historian and anthropologist, Professor Orchard’s ethnographic research examines sexuality, gender and the politics of health among marginalized populations, and utilizes research approaches that involve long-term immersion in, and on-going collaboration with, the communities she works with. I thank her for taking on the responsibility of helping support this important initiative and have let her know that the task force will have the full support of the Faculty of Health Sciences.
As the task force takes shape and their work begins, members will share regular email updates with the FHS community. Those updates also will be posted to www.uwo.ca/fhs/anti-racism. In addition, an email address has been set up – firstname.lastname@example.org – so members of the FHS community can contact the task force directly.
This is important work. It may be the most important work we are ever part of, and it is imperative that we all take part in this critical initiative to make Western a safer and more inclusive place to work and study.
Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences