Professor Santa J. Ono
June 1, 2020
3 mins read

Together against racism and injustice

Dear UBC community:

Recent anti-Black and anti-Asian violence in communities across North America has focused our attention on the deeply rooted racism in Canada and globally. UBC itself is not immune to racism and injustice.

As a university, we need to make it crystal clear that racism and bias have no place in our community and that we have zero tolerance for it.

On behalf of the University, I condemn and denounce all incidents of anti-Black and anti-Asian racism and the continued racism and oppression that is directed at Indigenous communities.

We must work together to dismantle the tools of oppression and white supremacy that remain prevalent and entrenched in our everyday systems. It is my hope that at least here at UBC, we can work to model a different kind of community—one where we embrace difference and work to build each other up while enacting values of dignity, mutual respect, and justice.

Deeply connected to the wider region, and benefiting from the privilege of being on unceded land, UBC must be responsive to the needs of our wider community and committed to advancing the understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

As a public sector institution, we have an obligation and commitment towards the public good; and as a place of learning and engagement, we are uniquely positioned to generate and mobilize knowledge that can transform systems of oppression and support emerging leaders that can help shape not only our campus, but workplaces and communities beyond our campuses. As such we will be organizing a series of public engagements focused on anti-racism.

As the President of UBC, I reaffirm our institutional commitment to inclusion and call for the acceleration and intensification of efforts to build a more inclusive campus community. Over the coming weeks, I will:

  • Ensure adequate resources to implement the goals and actions of the Inclusion Action Plan.
  • Meet with the Black Caucus and the Asian Canadian Community Engagement Group.
  • Support the diversification of the professoriate through the allocation of President's Excellence Chairs to Black and Indigenous faculty members.
  • Support identity-based spaces and organizations and ensure that they continue to receive the funding they need.
  • Fulfill commitments within the Inclusion Action Plan for the recruitment, retention, and support of Black students, staff, and faculty.
  • Ensure that all our public safety officers and other authority figures are adequately trained to eliminate any unconscious or implicit bias.
  • Endeavour to diversify our community at every level through defined programs.
  • As recommended by the External review of the Equity & Inclusion Office, establish a dotted line reporting relationship to the Associate Vice President, Equity & Inclusion.

I will also be working closely with members of our administration, the Associate Vice President, Equity & Inclusion, and relevant committees and groups to assess and look at ways that we can enhance our efforts to build a more inclusive campus. We will host a virtual town hall to elevate voices that are traditionally silenced in our institution and to monitor progress.

At UBC, diversity is our strength—inclusion of different perspectives and experiences is critical to the wellbeing of our community and the individual and collective pursuit of excellence. We can play a role against hatred, oppression, violence, and injustice, and find a way to support and elevate those who have been traditionally, systemically, and historically marginalized.

I encourage you to think about the role you can play in fighting racism and with that I urge you to read this post on solidarity and anti-racist action from our colleagues at the Equity & Inclusion Office.

If you are in need of support with respect to your wellbeing, please contact UBC Counselling Services or EFAP, explore some ways for self-care, and if you feel that you have faced discrimination while working or studying at UBC, please contact our human rights team. This post on sustainable self-care may also be useful.

On a personal note, I say to racialized students and colleagues at UBC: this is not the first time in history that you have experienced heightened stigmatization and racism. You are strong and resilient and will thrive in the face of this as you have done throughout history. Please don’t let racism cloud your spirit. Go and be the brilliant minds and compassionate hearts that you are, and continue to shine at UBC. You belong here.

If you think there is more UBC can do, I want to hear from you at

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor

Header photo credit: Paul H. Joseph / UBC Brand & Marketing